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Thanks to Covestro, consumers can make the world a brighter place
Trendsetters in sustainability
More and more consumers are becoming aware that, for better or worse, their choices have a direct impact on the future of our planet. And many are willing to leverage this power to make a difference. At the same time, they are looking for greater comfort, more style, and better functionalities in the objects they use on a daily basis. Covestro brings forth material technologies that allow each one of us to enjoy the convenience and beauty of high-quality products in our lives – and still support the sensible trend towards more sustainability in the textile industry and many others.
Using water as a solvent for polyurethane coatings in fact means saving water – and other natural resources – on a large scale during the entire textile production process.
Torsten Pohl, Head of Global Textile Coatings at Covestro

Waterborne polyurethane coatings make textile production more eco-friendly and safe

Combating climate change with cool looks

Functional clothing, fancy upholstery, robust car seats: there are many good reasons that speak for polyurethane (PU)-based textile coatings. Until now, however, one important reason also spoke against them: the processing of standard PU coatings requires chemical solvents. These solvents often feature a poor carbon footprint and pose a potential risk to both workers and the environment during the production process. One example is the widely used dimethylformamide (DMF), which is considered by many countries’ chemical associations as a substance of very high concern due to its status as a reprotoxin.

Waterborne PU innovations by Covestro help overcome the perceived contradiction of performance and eco-friendliness in the textile industry. A variety of technologies, assembled under the name INSQIN®, enable producers and brand owners along the value chain to offer high-quality soft goods with a global warming potential that is far lower than those made with solvents. Synthetic materials using waterborne PU technology also require drastically less water – up to 95 percent is possible – than traditional wet-processed materials, as there is no need to wash out any solvent after applying the coat.

INSQIN® PU coatings are sought after in diverse industries, like in the automotive and furniture sector for example, and for technical textile applications, such as work gloves with special performance requirements. One of the most exciting examples, however, is its contribution to functional sports- and footwear.

High-performance materials for high-performance apparel

PU coatings are perfectly suited for the creation of quality sports and outdoor apparel, as products in this particular field have to meet the highest requirements in terms of toughness, functionality, comfort, and style. On top of that, many sports and nature lovers follow a very eco-sensitive lifestyle. All these things considered, it’s hardly surprising that waterborne coating solutions by Covestro are changing the game when it comes to the manufacture of high-performing, sustainable sports shoes and clothing.

How Covestro PU coatings push boundaries of functional sportswear
Tailored functionality

Water-based coating technologies by Covestro enable functionalities that make sportswear and outdoor apparel stand out in the market. The various layers of clothing, for example, benefit from a dispersion that makes them water- and windproof yet breathable, and wicks sweat away. Clothing coated with polyurethanes also show excellent elasticity retention. This means that, even after repeated stretching, the garment returns to its original form – an important feature for running gear and other kinds of sports clothes. The same is true for footwear: tough yet flexible, and light in weight even in wet conditions, polyurethane is the perfect choice for the upper materials of high-performance shoes.

Design freedom

By means of a flexible combination of textiles, polyurethane coating systems, and coating application technology, product designers can achieve a wide range of aesthetic effects in their creations. Polyurethane coatings enhance and protect the color and texture of underlying fabrics, and provide the materials with special visual and haptic highlights that last for the whole lifetime of the garment.

Reliable protection

The waterborne PU coatings developed by Covestro protect sportswear at least as effectively as traditional solvent-based solutions. This means that end consumers can rely on excellent resistance against abrasion and wrinkling, washing and drying.

More information
More about INSQIN®
True transparency in the textile industry can only be achieved through a joint effort from partners across the value chain.

Cooperation along the value chain

Going the extra mile for more sustainability

Developing, producing, and supplying innovative raw materials is the core business of Covestro – but it’s far from all we do to enable more sustainability in the textile industry. Because we know that introducing a new material or production process always involves a huge effort and high costs, we make it as easy for our partners as possible.

In the state-of-the-art pilot coating facilities of Covestro located in several countries, our customers can evaluate new resources and methods directly, without interrupting their own production process. It is even possible to simulate the conditions of their plants to get a more accurate picture. What’s more, we have initiated a comprehensive program to promote cooperation and transparency in the textile industry.

The INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program

True sustainability in the fashion sector is only achievable if all players along the value chain – labels, manufacturers, and raw material suppliers – team up for this purpose. This is the basic idea behind the INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program.

The initiative pursues two main goals: to provide an objective verification of the quality of manufacturers of polyurethane synthetics based on Covestro’s INSQIN® technology, and to bring manufacturers in touch with like-minded brand owners.

An independent service provider audits manufacturers aspiring to join the program. After a successful audit of their factory and management system, and a thorough testing of their products based on our sustainable raw materials, the manufacturer is recognized as an INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer. The process ensures that all partners involved, as well as end consumers, can rely on strict compliance with objective sustainability criteria.

The first step towards more sustainable solutions always is fully understanding a given material’s ecological impact.

Covestro raw materials enable a sustainable life cycle for countless everyday applications

Focusing on the big picture

No doubt: many of our materials do take up a considerable amount of energy in the manufacturing process. But their sustainable potential becomes quite clear when their carbon footprint during the entire life cycle is taken into consideration.

More information

Press release on the INSQIN® Life Cycle Assessment Study

Stories that push boundaries

Follow the links below and learn more about our commitment to make the world a brighter place.
#Pushing Boundaries
An overview of all highlight stories.
#NextGen Composites
Our composites bring together lightness and performance.
#FreshPerspective
At Covestro, 80 years of experience fuel a fresh perspective and versatile innovations.
#SmartChemistry
Covestro materials make our lives more efficient and comfortable.
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