Based in China and New York, Eco Supreme produces home goods and apparel made of polylactic acids fibers derived from renewable plant inputs (e.g., corn and cassava). Their biodegradable products include bedding and other home goods, apparel, and baby products. MII evaluated their fibers as an alternative down filling.
Polylactic acid fibers and fabric. A down alternative when used as filling.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
Producing polylactic acid (PLA) fibers starts with the fermentation of sugars from plants such as corn, sugar cane, sugar beet, or cassava to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is transformed and linked to form chains of PLA polymers. These PLA polymers are formed into pellets and further processed into fibers for use in fabrics or other materials. PLA polymers have properties similar to polypropylene, polyethylene, and other synthetic fibers, but are made without petroleum. In addition, PLA polymers can be made into fibers and fabrics on existing machinery. A decade of research and development led to EcoSupreme’s optimized process for producing PLA polymers, which lowers costs and reduces lead times.
According to the company, producing PLA polymers uses less energy and generates fewer greenhouse gases than the production of petroleum-based polymers. More information is needed on the source of the plants used in the PLA production process. Using agricultural waste would be more sustainable than using food crops for this purpose. PLA fibers and fabrics are also fully biodegradable. Biodegraded PLA fibers and fabrics potentially leave soil and water more acidic, however, but more data is needed to assess this impact.
PLA fibers and fabrics are soft, wrinkle free, and non-irritating. Fibers provide good thermal insulation, are lint free and quick drying.
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Fibers used as a down alternative in quilts, pillows, and other bedding products.
Images from Eco Supreme.