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YnFx Sustainable Conversations

Alexa Raab – Sorona Global Brand & Communications Leader

Our recent interaction with Alea Raab, Global Brand Manager, Communications Manager - Sorona® at Covation Biomaterials- talks about Sorona®, a partially bio-based renewably sourced polymer that is ideal for creating attractive, high-performance apparel and soft, durable carpeting.

Sorona®, renewably sourced eco-efficient performance fiber

2022-07-04 08:42:16 – USA

Covation Biomaterials, founded in 2022 in Newark, Delaware, is a leading supplier of bio-based materials solutions. Their main aim is to make bio-based materials available to everyone. They offer a successful range of biomaterials that are currently available in the market like Sorona®, Susterra®, and Zemea®.

Covation Biomaterials continue to push the frontiers of innovation and sustainability by continuous collaboration with forward-thinking value chain partners and brands around the world to produce high-performance biomaterials at scale.

Our recent interaction with Alexa Raab, Global Brand Manager, Communications Manager - Sorona® at Covation Biomaterials- talks about Sorona®, a partially bio-based renewably sourced polymer that is ideal for creating attractive, high-performance apparel and soft, durable carpeting.

Alexa Raab is a dedicated, collaborative leader who unites her expertise in communications, brand strategy, marketing, and management as the Global Brand and Communications Manager of Sorona® at Covation Biomaterials, an eco-efficient performance fiber.

YnFx: What led to the creation of Sorona fiber?

Raab: Sorona® was introduced in the year 2000 as the world’s first 3GT polymer. ​​It was developed by leveraging the innovative bio-based monomer Bio-PDO™ as the basis for the polymer. The development process for Sorona® begins by harvesting feedstock (industrial dent corn) and extracting glucose from the crops. Next, proprietary microorganisms are added to ferment the sugar to create Bio-PDO™. TPA (terephthalic acid) is added to the monomer to create Sorona® polymer. For more than 20 years, Sorona® has offered spinners, mills, retailers, and consumers a high-quality, eco-efficient product that doesn’t sacrifice performance.

YnFx: What are the major features of the Sorona fiber, and how does it vary from other performance fibers on the market?

Raab: Fibers made with Sorona® polymer are currently used in various apparel applications, including athleisure and athletic wear, insulation, swimwear, outerwear, suiting, faux fur, and carpeting.

It’s one of the most versatile polymers, sustainably made, and long-lasting. Our lab scientifically tests fabrics made with Sorona® for a minimum amount of bio-based content and for performance characteristics including comfort stretch, breathability, warmth, softness, wrinkle resistance, UV and heat resistance, shape recovery, durability, color retention, dimensional stability, just to give a few examples.

YnFx: How does Sorona fiber assist in addressing some of the most challenging issues confronting the apparel industry today?

Raab: To be truly sustainable, responsibly made fabrics must be accessible at scale, while meeting or exceeding performance expectations of the traditional alternative. Trust and transparency are also essential.

We recently introduced two programs to support transparency in the value chain and make sustainable fabrics more accessible globally. The Common Thread Fabric Certification is the process we facilitate with mills to scientifically test fabrics made with Sorona® for the performance characteristics and content components.

Mills can also undergo an additional qualification process to join the Preferred Mill Network. These mills carry a range of certified Sorona® fabrics. Currently, the collection includes five sub-branded fabrics—Agile, Aura, Luxe, Profile, and Revive. 

YnFx: What sustainable measures has the company taken in its production process?

Raab: The fundamental process to make bio-propanediol (Bio-PDO) from industrial dent corn is essentially the same fermentation process used to make beer. 

Sorona® was one of the first USDA-certified bio-based products, is a BlueSign® partner, and holds an OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certification.

We’ll have additional announcements to make about sustainability measures in the coming months.

YnFx: What are the various applications of the Sorona fiber?

Raab: From flexible yoga wear to suiting and faux fur, Sorona® can make any textile look good, feel good and do good. It offers unique performance benefits, including incredible softness, stretch and recovery, and inherent stain resistance without the need for topical treatments. 

As a step towards growing our brand visibility, Sorona® was part of Bravo’s “Project Runway”, Episode 1907: Are You Fur Real”. Contestants had the chance to create runway-ready designs featuring faux fur made with Sorona®. In collaboration with Ecopel, we developed Koba®, one of the first commercially available bio-based faux furs. Host and designer Christian Siriano called the sustainable faux fur “groundbreaking” and “amazing”. This timely episode aired as the industry has been buzzing with major brands and media outlets taking a stance against animal fur.

Bio-based Sorona® is also an excellent replacement for fibers like spandex and nylon. There are currently more than 43.7 million garments worldwide made with certified Sorona® fabrics. We know there’s still a lot that can be done to utilize more sustainable fibers like Sorona® throughout the fashion industry and we’re excited to collaborate with other fiber companies and brands on their sustainability journey.

YnFx: What are the company's future plans?

Raab: Designing the future means designing sustainably. It’s encouraging to see so many partners committed to taking critical steps to improve the industry and meet the moment for sustainable offerings. It’s our hope that programs like the ones we’ve introduced will continue to make these choices easier and more common. We’re so encouraged by the response already, which has included many brands taking their first steps forward with sustainable capsule collections made with Sorona®.

Sorona®, and its sister brands Susterra® and Zemea®, have long been at the forefront of bio-based options and now are part of the newly formed Covation Biomaterials. This leading global company offering bio-based solutions launched this month as an independent business following the acquisition of DuPont Biomaterials by the Huafon Group. This phase of the company journey combines decades of world-class science and engineering expertise with new investment and manufacturing capabilities. It’s another step in our mission to make innovative and high-performance, bio-based products accessible globally. We’re excited about the positive changes we’ll be able to make and look forward to sharing more about the growth of the company with you.

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