Patagonia and Yulex Corporation have partnered together to bring the world’s first wetsuit made from plants to market.
Until now, wetsuits have been manufactured from fossil-based neoprene, an environmentally harmful product due to its method of production.
After four years of research, Patagonia and Yulex have created a new wet suit that is 60% plant-based. According to their press release, “this is just the first step” and that the “goal is to have the formula be 100% plant based”.
The bio-rubber material used for the wetsuits is made from guayule, a renewable crop grown in the United States. The USDA calls this plant a “promising biofuel and biomedical crop.”
In the past, eco-initiatives using food crops as a manufacturing input have been blamed for consumer food price increases. By contrast, guayule is a non-food crop that requires little water and needs no pesticides. In addition, the manufacturing process is far cleaner than that of neoprene.
Patagonia is a well-known outdoor recreational brand and it will be interesting to see what additional innovation this sparks within the industry. Consumers within this market are very environmentally aware, so it will be no surprise if products like this are well received.
The new wetsuits made from plants will be released in Japan initially. Custom suits will become available in the US in Spring 2013, followed by a worldwide rollout.
Is bio-material the way of the future? Let us know in the comments below.