NATIONAL REPORT—CiCLO™, a sustainable textile technology from Intrinsic Advanced Materials, LLC, could help the lodging industry reduce its plastic waste footprint substantially. CiCLO is a nature-based solution to reducing plastic microfiber pollution. “Adding CiCLO technology to polyester and nylon is scientifically proven to accelerate nature’s bioremediation process,” according to Intrinsic Advanced Materials.
“CiCLO technology can be added to polyester and nylon, which are the main components of various fabrics used within the hospitality industry,” explains Andrea Ferris, CEO of Intrinsic Advanced Materials and Co-Inventor of CiCLO technology. “Polyester and nylon are highly durable plastics used in everything from bedding to towels to window and shower curtains to pillows and more. If it’s a textile that needs to be high performance and durable, it’s a fit for CiCLO polyester or nylon.
“Many hospitality items are laundered in bulk every day, and almost all fabrics shed small fibers during the process, contributing to the 2.2 million tons of microfibers that enter the ocean every year,” Ferris adds. “CiCLO technology helps reduce the persistence of this fugitive microfiber pollution by enabling polyester and nylon fibers to break down in the environment, leaving behind only basic natural elements. In filled products like pillows and comforters CiCLO acts as a natural biodegradable accelerant for polyester filling materials.”
CiCLO is combined with polyester and nylon during melt extrusion at the very beginning of the fiber-making process. The CiCLO additive creates countless biodegradable pathways in the matrix of the plastic, enabling microbes that naturally exist in environments where microfibers are prolific pollutants (wastewater treatment plants, soil, landfill, sea water) to break down the materials just like they do with natural fibers. CiCLO fibers may be blended with cotton, wool, spandex or other material.
Biodegrades at the Right Time
CiCLO polyester and nylon are as durable as the conventional versions and maintain performance characteristics during their useful life. Just like known biodegradable materials like cotton or wool won’t biodegrade on a shelf, during use or in the wash, CiCLO technology is only activated when exposed to moisture and microbes over long periods of time.
According to Intrinsic Advanced Materials, it only sells CiCLO additive to its global network of certified fiber and yarn manufacturers. Brands and retailers may purchase CiCLO fiber and yarn directly from its network of CiCLO Certified Manufacturers for endless applications, from apparel to rugs to linens and more. Third-party testing has confirmed CiCLO’s effectiveness.
“CiCLO technology has seen huge success with adoptions in retail apparel, and now we’re seeing similar momentum within retail home textiles and lots of interest from the hospitality industry,” Ferris says. “We expect to see tremendous growth with hotels worldwide.”
CiCLO will soon be used by at least one hospitality industry supplier: Blue Ridge Hotel Textiles. Tim Keegan, Senior Vice President of the company, first learned about CiCLO about eight months ago but has known several of their product people for many more years.
Keegan says his company has a line of down alternative products in product development testing right now. “Our timeline is to introduce QA-tested product that stands up to the rigors of hotel use and commercial laundering, sometime later this year. We use only all cotton fabrics currently in our hotel lines but will be evaluating CiCLO poly/cotton blends soon. Over time we believe all Blue Ridge Hotel down alternative products will use CiCLO material.”
Blue Ridge Hotel Textiles’ parent company, Blue Ridge Home Fashions has also developed products using CiCLO that will be introduced soon.
Companies Already Using CiCLO
Apparel and accessory brands with public adoptions to CiCLO today include Oakley, Billabong, Aeropostale and Nordstrom handbags. McDonald’s Corpo. has added CiCLO to many of their apparel items including aprons.
Keegan says his company is just starting to hear from hotel customers about the use of CiCLO. “The hotel brands we have talked to are very excited about CiCLO technology as a real game-changer and its applicability to all down alternative filled product on the bed,” he says.
There will be little cost difference with products incorporating CiCLO—only in the low single digits, Keegan says. “This very small cost for such an incredible technology is one of the things that make CiCLO a viable material for widespread use and environmental impact,” he says.
The coming of CiCLO is timely for the lodging industry.
“The lodging industry is very aware and serious at looking for sustainable solutions to the pollution problems we have today,” Keegan says. “The large hotel chains are all watching for new ideas to help and that are affordable. Landfills are a big issue across the country and globally and discussed with increasing frequency by peer groups. There are also options being discussed like repurposing textiles but that is at least a decade away from viability. Also, there is no commercial method to repurpose staple fiber. Most basic textile products from hotel and consumer use end up in landfills, so CiCLO, which accelerates biodegradability in the landfill environment is the gold standard today—and for the foreseeable future.”
How to Educate Guests About CiCLO
When asked how a hotel might explain what is different about its linens, towels, etc. using CiCLO, Ferris suggested her company’s hangtag program, or other marketing assistance.
“The hangtag program is co-branded material that explains CiCLO technology benefits with a focus on highlighting the reduction of plastic microfiber pollution in the environment,” she says. “We offer a standard hang tag design for products made with CiCLO polyester or nylon, and in instances where a hangtag isn’t appropriate, our marketing team works with hotel customers to develop alternative materials including website and social media messaging content. For in-room guest information, that may be collateral design advice, care, and content label verbiage, etc. A hotel room appointed with towels and shower curtain made with CiCLO might have a towel bar hanger. We help customers implement the most impactful ways to communicate the value of their material design decisions to their hotel guests.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.