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Patagonia Launches First Neoprene-Alternative Wetsuit

Nov 19, 2012

Author: Press Release

Patagonia Inc., a leading designer of core outdoor, surf and sport-related apparel, equipment, footwear and accessories, and Yulex Corporation, a clean technology company developing agricultural-based biomaterials for medical, consumer, industrial and bioenergy products, announced today the introduction of a guayule-based wetsuit, a renewable biorubber that is the first alternative to traditional fossil-based Neoprene.

“When we started to build wetsuits we knew that neoprene, by nature of its production, was the most environmentally harmful part of the product. Our initial approach was to use innovative materials, like wool, that are highly insulating and allowed us to use as little neoprene as possible. But we quickly realized that we needed to create a new material that could be a true alternative to neoprene,” notes Jason McCaffrey, Patagonia’s surf director. “After four years of working together, Patagonia and Yulex have co-developed a unique material that allows us to make a wetsuit that is 60% guayule (plant) based. Our goal is to have the formula be 100% plant based, but we feel that for now this new material is a big enough step forward to let the world know it is possible to buy something cleaner. This is just the first step; it’s our hope that other brands see this as interesting and join the effort to innovate and implement alternatives to traditional neoprene that is used in wetsuits.”

Yulex’s biorubber material is made from guayule, a renewable, non-food crop that requires very little water, is grown domestically in the US, uses no pesticides, and in comparison to traditional neoprene, has a very clean manufacturing process.

Initially, the new suits will be available in Japan only. In Spring 2013, surfers will be able to order custom suits out of Patagonia’s wetsuit facility in Ventura, CA, with a global rollout to follow.

“Yulex commends Patagonia for supporting the advancement of a sustainable, low-carbon future by embracing agricultural-based, biomaterials to replace petroleum-based synthetics,” said Jeff Martin, CEO, president and founder of Yulex Corporation. “Patagonia is guiding the action sports industry to a new level and setting an example for the importance of sustainable practices. Yulex views this partnership as a major step towards a future where use of our renewable, guayule-based biomaterials is the industry standard for consumer, medical, industrial and bioenergy products.”

About Patagonia

Patagonia, Inc., based in Ventura, California, is a leading designer of core outdoor, surf and sport-related apparel, equipment, footwear and accessories. With sales last year of $540M, the company is noted internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing over $47.5M in cash and in-kind donations to date. Incorporating environmental responsibility into product development, the company has, since 1996, used only organically grown cotton in its clothing line. Committed to making its products landfill-free, the company’s entire product line is recyclable thorough its Common Threads Initiative. The company also advocates corporate transparency through its interactive website, The Footprint Chronicles, which outlines the environmental and social footprint of individual products. Patagonia was featured as The Coolest Company on the Planet on Fortune Magazine’s April 2007 cover.

About Yulex Corporation

Yulex Corporation has developed a portfolio of biomaterials derived from the U.S. grown guayule plant. The company’s technological innovation is designed to replace traditional tropical or petroleum based rubber for consumer, industrial and medical markets, with the residual agricultural materials utilized as a feedstock for bioenergy. Yulex collaborates with customers to develop and market highly differentiated, premium performance products in an ecologically responsible, sustainable manner. For more, visit yulex.com.


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