A manufacturer has developed waterwear using petroleum-free neoprene, all-natural rubber, and recycled plastic
Spotted: Dutch ‘water fashion’ brand Wallien has committed to sustainability by replacing all virgin petroleum-based materials in its products.
Neoprene – used widely in waterwear – was invented in 1930 out of petroleum-based chemicals. However, an alternative made without petroleum products was actually developed in the 1960s. This uses calcium carbonate from limestone and has become common in most high-end wetsuits and was considered a sustainable and high-performance option. Many of the brand’s wetsuits use Japanese limestone neoprene, which lasts three times longer than petroleum alternatives and is considered the most premium neoprene available.
However, it now appears that limestone neoprene is not as sustainable as originally thought, and following its commitment to research and development, Wallien’s newest wetsuit range, the Horizonia range, is therefore made from Yulex, a natural latex rubber that is ‘tapped’ (like maple syrup) from the rubber tree Hevea Brasiliensis. Because the rubber trees Yulex is derived from absorb CO2, the wetsuits made using this material are actually more sustainable than those made from limestone neoprene. The trees are all grown on sustainably managed plantations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
The brand’s swimwear range is made from recycled plastics and fishing nets and soon its wetsuit linings will also be made from recycled plastic.
Wallien goes even further, packaging all its wetsuits in recyclable cardboard and bio-plastic bags made from corn. It also aims to limit transport pollution by working with manufacturers to reduce the distance between supplier and manufacturer, and between the company’s warehouse and its customers. By funding new technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, Wallien then offsets the remaining carbon footprint from transport to customers.
The privately-owned company has already developed an impressive following of professional surfers.
There is no shortage of innovations replacing petroleum-derived products with more sustainable alternatives. Some recent ones spotted by Springwise include sustainable packaging options and a polystyrene foam replacement made from agri-waste.
Written By: Lisa Magloff