What are CiCLO® fibers?
CiCLO® (pronounced See-Kloh and translates to “cycle”) fibers are polyester or nylon fibers treated with our sustainable textile technology.
How are CiCLO® fibers made?
CiCLO® is added to virgin or recycled polyester when the plastic pellets are melted down to make fibers and yarn. It becomes embedded in the plastic so it never washes off.
How do you define biodegradation?
The ability of a substance to be broken down physically and/or chemically by microorganisms resulting in the production of basic natural elements including carbon dioxide, methane, water, minerals, and new microbial cellular constituents (biomass).
Are CiCLO® fibers compostable?
No, CiCLO® technology is not designed to be compostable. CiCLO® technology is designed for biodegradation, but will not meet the rate and extent requirements of 90% biodegradation (conversion to CO2) within 180 days in a commercial environment. Compost is also not a customary disposal method for textiles.
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Biodegradability is the ability of materials to be broken down in the environment by the metabolic action of naturally-occurring microbes including bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Biodegradation is said to be complete when the materials are converted (mineralized) to their basic elements where the end products are CO2, methane, biomass and water.
Composting, is different because the biodegradation takes place in a controlled manmade system where the end products are intended for specific uses such as soil amendments and fertilizers. The ASTM D5338-15 Test Method determines the rate and extent of aerobic biodegradation of plastic materials on exposure to a controlled composting environment under laboratory conditions. Per the ASTM D6400-19 Standard Specification which relies on the D5338-15 procedure, a material may be considered “compostable” if a minimum of 90% of the carbon is converted into carbon dioxide within 180 days.
Are CiCLO® fibers safe?
Yes, CiCLO® fibers are safe. The chemistry used to make them is proven to be safe for use in sustainable textiles by a third party certification called OEKO-TEX ECO PASSPORT®. They check to make sure that each substance meets industry statutory requirements and that it is not harmful to human health.
Are CiCLO® fibers less durable or will they biodegrade while they are being worn or used?
CiCLO® fibers have no impact other than to allow the microbes that naturally exist in the environment to be able to biodegrade the material just like the do for natural materials like wool. The biodegradation process takes a long time and will not happen during use or care just like wool doesn’t biodegrade during use or care.
Will an entire product biodegrade if it only uses a portion of CiCLO® fibers?
CiCLO® fibers may be blended with other materials like cotton, wool, tencel, spandex or any other textile fiber. The presence of CiCLO® fibers in a product will not have any impact on other fiber types that it may be blended with for yarn.
What happens to the dyes on fabrics that are made with CiCLO® fibers?
While we cannot make a blanket statement that no chemistries affect the degradation performance, we can share that we’ve tested various finishes and have not yet found a chemistry that hinders biodegradation. We can say with confidence that CiCLO® textiles and associated textile dyes that satisfy 3rd party certifications such as bluesign®, OEKO-TEX® or Cradle to Cradle will safely be biodegraded, decolorized and mineralized into basic chemical compounds that are harmless.
If you can’t see it, how do you know it’s actually in the products?
CiCLO® technology has an authentication program that requires all fiber producers to validate the presence of CiCLO® in every batch they manufacture.
How do CiCLO® fibers reduce plastic pollution?
CiCLO® fibers reduce plastic pollution in two ways:
- Fabrics made from polyester, nylon and many other synthetics are actually plastic. As with almost all fabrics, they can shed small fibers (sometimes called microfibers or fiber fragments) when worn and washed. These plastic fibers are very small, difficult to recover and wind up in our oceans. Most plastic doesn’t naturally biodegrade, but fibers made with CiCLO® will eventually biodegrade in sea water just like wool would.
- Unfortunately, mass apparel recycling is not available today and most of it is thrown away when no longer wanted, piling up in landfills. Like in sea water, fibers made with CiCLO® will eventually biodegrade in landfill conditions.
Why do companies make products from polyester if it is plastic and pollutes the environment?
Polyester is the most functional fabric for high performance textiles. It wicks water, stretches and is easy to care for. Plus, it’s a benefit that it lasts nearly forever! The most sustainable choice is to reduce consumption and use what you have for as long as possible.
Does CiCLO® contribute to microfibers?
With regard to the concern about exacerbating microfiber pollution, please note that unlike oxo-degradable technologies where transition metal salts catalyze the breakdown of plastics in the presence of UV light and oxygen into smaller pieces, CiCLO® materials are biochemically eroded from the outside working inwards. The carbon mass balance from the tests demonstrate that the material is being metabolized and mineralized into basic elements, to completion given some time. Any new surface area created is CiCLO®-enabled to catalyze further biodegradation. CiCLO® clearly contributes to the reduction of microfiber pollution.
Shouldn’t we be recycling instead of throwing textiles away?
CiCLO® does not prevent recycling wherever facilities exist. While many people in the textiles industry are working on chemical and mechanical recycling solutions, mass textile recycling does not exist today. We encourage you to keep your textiles for as long as possible, and hand them down if you no longer want them for any reason.
How long does it take for CiCLO® fibers to biodegrade in sea water or landfill?
Because of the highly variable natural conditions in sea water and landfill environments, we cannot guarantee any specific timeframes. As a comparison to natural materials, our long term biodegradation studies have shown that CiCLO® polyester biodegrades in anaerobic landfill conditions at rates similar to wool.
Although we cannot guarantee specific timeframes, we can confirm that when CiCLO® treated fabrics are tested alongside comparable non-CiCLO® fabrics at 3rd party labs, we see greatly accelerated rates of biodegradation.
How much is the rate of biodegradation accelerated?
For example, a CiCLO® treated fabric fully biodegraded in about 3 1/2 years versus about 6% for a non-CiCLO® version. Lab conditions are ideal and we would expect both fabrics to take longer in real life. We cannot guarantee actual timeframes due to the highly variable conditions found in nature.
Does wool biodegrade in sea water?
Wool is a naturally occurring fiber made of keratin, the biological structural component of skin, hair, nails, feathers, and horns among other things. It is readily and easily biodegradable by those microorganisms which produce keratinase, an enzyme able to break down keratin substrates. Although keratinase producers are less prevalent in the marine environment than they are on land, they still fully biodegrade wool albeit at a slower rate.
I thought nothing biodegrades in landfill?
While the biodegradation process in landfill can be very slow, biodegradation does occur.
If CiCLO® helps accelerate biodegradation, why aren’t you just calling your products biodegradable?
To prevent littering and the misconception that “biodegradable” means “disposable”, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of CA restrict what can legally be stated about biodegradable plastics. We are required by law to avoid labeling our products as biodegradable so we instead focus on the benefit of reducing plastic pollution.
According to the FTC, as long as the time and extent of degradation supported by scientiﬁc evidence is stated clearly and prominently, a claim that a plastic item is biodegradable is permitted.
California law, however, is more restrictive. With certain exceptions for compostable products, California law prohibits any plastic item being labeled with the terms “biodegradable,” “degradable,” or “decomposable,” or with any form of those terms, or with language that in any way implies that the plastic item will break down, fragment, biodegrade, or decompose in a landﬁll or other environment. Misleading, false or deceptive claims are always prohibited. Because marketing claims may reach California consumers not only directly but through internet advertising, California law is likely to apply to the marketing of CiCLO® products to end users. CiCLO® products are comprised of polyester, which is a polymer, and therefore our products could be considered a “plastic” material per applicable regulations. As a result, we consider the most appropriate approach to marketing claims to be the most conservative approach, leading us to urge our customers to comply with California law and to use caution when referencing “biodegradability” in connection with CiCLO® products.
Where can I obtain more information about the FTC and California restrictions?
The FTC has published the “Green Guides” to provide information to businesses marketing environmentally friendly products. See 16 C.F.R. Part 260 et seq. For California law, please see A Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 17500 et seq. and CA Pub. Res. Code §§ 42355 et seq.