lululemon Athletica inc. signed a multi-year collaboration with sustainable materials leader Genomatica to bring renewably-sourced, bio-based materials into lululemon’s products. This represents lululemon’s first-ever equity investment in a sustainable materials company and Genomatica’s largest partnership within the retail industry. Together, the two companies will create a lower-impact, plant-based nylon to replace conventional nylon, which is the largest volume of synthetic material currently used to make lululemon products.
Genomatica uses biotechnology and fermentation to convert plant-based ingredients into widely used chemical building blocks, like those used to make nylon. These building blocks are converted to pellets and yarns, and the companies will be working closely with lululemon’s fabric supply chain to incorporate this material into future products. Through this collaboration, the companies seek to create positive change within the $22B global nylon market by building more sustainable supply chains.
“Our partnership with and investment in Genomatica – Calvin McDonald, CEO, lululemon said – demonstrates our commitment to be a leader in creating products that help build a healthier future for ourselves, for our communities and for our planet. Genomatica’s bio-based innovations, along with their distinctive track record of successful commercial applications, will help us deliver on our Impact Agenda goals to make 100% of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030, as we move toward a circular ecosystem.”
“We are proud to partner with lululemon, a company that is taking meaningful action to help address our climate crisis,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO, Genomatica. “The combination of biotechnology, fermentation and renewable feedstocks can provide a powerful means to disrupt the apparel industry through sustainable sourcing. This unique collaboration will help meet increasing consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products and set an example for consumer brand owners worldwide.”
“Replacing the petrochemicals that make up many popular materials with more sustainable alternatives – Patty Stapp, VP, Raw Materials, lululemon, said – is a major step forward in reaching our Impact Agenda goals. By transitioning our nylon to renewable content, we will impact over half of the synthetic materials we use in our supply chain. We have seen Genomatica repeatedly and successfully deliver industry-changing bio-based materials at commercial scale and are confident this partnership can truly change the way we source products, while continuing to provide the exceptional quality we are known for.”
In October 2020, lululemon released its first-ever Impact Agenda, outlining ambitious social and environmental goals and multi-year strategies toward a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy future. The collaboration with Genomatica is one of the many ways lululemon is bringing new, sustainable innovation to its raw materials. Additional examples include the company’s partnership with Mylo, to use a mycelium-based leather, and LanzaTech, for polyester made using recycled carbon emissions.