EcoTextiles Just Got Tougher: Cordura EcoMade

Cordura cares image

For most people their connection with Cordura probably began with a daypack or duffle bag sewn for this tough, durable, texturised nylon that looked rather like a heavy duty canvas. Cordura has had a colourful history, which we cover below. A new chapter in the story started this month when Invista formally announced the Cordura Cares sustainability platform.

A major component of which is Cordura EcoMade. After many decades of being primarily a nylon textile, the Cordura brand, as it applies to the likes of backpacks, bags and luggage will now embrace 100% recycled polyester, complete the tagline: "Turn Discarded into Durable."

cordura microscope photo

Cordura EcoMade will be engineered with yarns of Unifi's Repreve recycled polyester. Unifi have set a verification system called U Trust, which transparently racks the fibres from their discarded existance to their new durable life. Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) also provide third-party certification for the recycled content and international Oeko-Tex 100 Standard provides additional certification, which checks over textiles for harmful substances.

This is an intriguing move by Invista, as nylon is inherently a more abrasion resistant fibre than polyester. But until recently has not been readily recyclable. Oddly Unifi are one of those breaking new ground with nylon recycled fibre. Anyhow, to apply an 80 year old name synonymous with ruggedness to a whole new fibre suggest Invista have great confidence in the quality of today's recycled polyester. And that in turn is good news for the rest of us, for if this category leader is putting their reputation behind recycling then it's likely the rest of the industry will follow suite.

According to Unifi their Repreve recycled polyester fibre conserves the equivalent of 0.4 gallons of gasoline (petrol) for every 1 pound (450 g) that's produced.

Invista are also touting Cordura's tough longevity as a eco-attribute.

Cordura's History
Originally used in the heydays of rayon in 1929, the name was later applied to nylon fabrics in the 1970's when Jansport's ubiquitous college daypacks were all the rage. This was when canvas-like nylons took off, with the air-jet texturised Cordura firmly in the lead. (Asian me-toos even named themselves similarly - like Kodra.) The branded fibre was further refined to the point wear it could be used in clothing that was durable and flexible. The Cordura brand was owned by Dupont, who in 2003 set up a subsidiary textile arm called Invista, which was later sold to Koch Industries in 2004. According to Wikpedia, Koch are the second largest privately held company in the United States, or were in 2008. Invista is said to be the world's largest integrated fiber, resin and intermediates company.

And also of note is the the US EPA announced earlier this year that "Invista will pay a $1.7 million civil penalty and spend up to an estimated $500 million to correct self-reported environmental violations discovered at facilities in seven states." Looks like the parent company is facing up to a thorough acknowledgment of corporate responsibility, in more ways that one.

::Cordura Cares, via a tip from Lindsey G.

Images: Invista
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Eco-tip: Antimony-free Clothing
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Recycled Nylon, and the Patagonia Footprint
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