The North Face re-launched one of their largest product lines this month using recycled materials. Lightweight down alternative ThermoBall Eco jackets are now made from recycled polyester fabric and recycled insulation, the company says.
Originally introduced in 2013, ThermoBall used synthetic insulation instead of real goose down. Round synthetic fiber clusters trap heat inside small air pockets, mimicking down for weight and compressibility but performing like synthetic insulation in wet weather. Kansas State University did independent testing that showed ThermoBall has warmth equivalent to 600-fill goose down, according to the apparel brand.
Material production and manufacturing accounts for 60 to 85% of the company’s total environmental footprint — more than customer use or even customer shipping, which The North Face offsets. With that in mind, the company decided to switch to recycled materials for their largest collections.
For the ThermoBall Eco line, plastic bottles get turned into fibers and fabrics. The North Face sources the recycled insulation from their partners at Primaloft. That particular material gets spun from at least five plastic bottles, diverting them from the landfill.
The North Face calls this move an important step in how the company creates sustainable change at scale.
Earlier this year, the apparel brand committed to going cupless for its Endurance Challenge Series of ultra trail running races across the United States and launched the Bottle Source collection made from plastic bottles collected from several national parks’ waste streams. The program has pulled more than 160,000 pounds of bottles so far, the company says.
More recently the company launched The North Face Renewed, an online collection of refurbished apparel aimed at extending product life. Partners include Tersus Solutions, which employs a closed-loop cleaning process. In September, the company expanded its Cali Wool Collection made from wool produced in California using regenerative agriculture practices. The North Face says this material has a net negative carbon effect at the ranching stage.