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Quality Fabric Of The Month

PCR Aramid For Workwear: FR Around And Around

Victor Group has set up a closed-loop recycling operation to provide post-consumer recycled aramid fiber for its Ecoshield® FR workwear fabric.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

Victor Group Inc. — a Canada-based manufacturer of contract, residential, outdoor, and apparel and specialty fabrics — has been producing textiles since 1947 and has long been a player in the sustainable manufacturing area. The company has been recycling wool from the beginning, and it introduced the first products in its Eco Intelligence® collection of closed-loop recycled fabrics in the early 2000s. Eco Intelligent Polyester® has achieved McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry's (MBDC's) Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certification, the second-highest level in MBDC's sustainable product certification program.

Victor's Apparel and Specialties Division now has added a flame-retardant (FR) workwear fabric to the Eco Intelligence collection. Ecoshield® is made using a fiber blend that includes post-consumer recycled aramid collected in a closed-loop system the company has set up. The fabric meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Hazard Risk Category (HRC) 2 for arc flash protection and Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) 155.20-2000 standards, offering the same level of protection as FR fabrics made using 100-percent virgin materials. The company reports Ecoshield is the first FR fabric containing recycled aramid fiber available on the market.

FR garments made with Victor Group's Ecoshield® fabric with recycled aramid content offer the same level of protection as 100-percent virgin aramid garments.

Ecoshield is a 2/1 twill denim-like fabric that currently is offered in a blend containing 67-percent virgin aramid, 20-percent recycled aramid, 12-percent modacrylic and 1-percent antistatic fiber. In the fabric, the warp contains the virgin aramid and antistatic fiber, while the weft is a blend of recycled aramid and modacrylic with a small proportion of virgin aramid.

The fabric is softer than 100-percent virgin aramid fabrics, according to Allan T. Britton, director of sales & product development, Apparel & Specialty Fabrics. "That's probably because the recycling process yields slightly shorter fibers that give a better hand," he explained, noting also that the use of virgin aramid in the fabric helps to maintain the fabric's structural integrity.

Currently, the recycled content is coming from used garments mostly containing 100-percent aramid, but the recycled proportion in the blend may change as the company's technologies evolve, especially once garments made with Ecoshield begin to be recycled into the system. "As we improve our recycling and spinning processes, we hope to increase the recycled content," Britton said. "There are some limitations on the length of the fiber, but we're finding we can make improvements, and we expect not too long from now to have more recycled content."

At first, Victor is collecting used aramid garments through a takeback program involving industrial laundries in Alberta, where extensive oil fields are located. Eventually, the company expects to expand the takeback program to other locations as well.

"As we start to build production, we're working with garment makers and end-users to set up a collection program," Britton said. "Getting enough raw materials has not been a problem, as everyone wants to avoid landfilling them."

Victor will offer Ecoshield throughout North America to protect people working in hazardous occupations. "Although it was developed initially with input from garment manufacturers focused on the oil fields in Alberta, the interest is universal," Britton added.

The preferred method of cleaning the fabric is dry cleaning, but it also may be laundered in an industrial facility or at home. Victor provides a laundering guide on its website.

For more information about Ecoshield® FR fabric, contact Allan T. Britton +603-475-0581, al.britton@victorgroup.com

August 21, 2012