Polartec, a Milliken & Company brand, introduced Polartec Shed Less Fleece, which reduces textile fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85 percent*.

The first fabric to receive the technology is Polartec’s 200 Series Fleece, made from recycled plastic bottles. The shedless process engineers the lofted fibers to resist breaking and rubbing off during laundering.

“Polartec has a long tradition of EcoEngineering its products to reduce their environmental footprint,” said Ramesh Kesh, Ph.D., senior vice president, Milliken & Company. “Shed Less is the latest progression of these efforts and the result of many years of research and development.” 

“In 2016, we began looking into how we might test for fiber loss because there wasn’t a lot of research on the issue,” said Aimee LaValley, Polartec Textile Development, dye and chemistry manager. “This led to new products like Polartec Power AirTM, new manufacturing processes, and our participation in the TextileMission workgroup** to study the issue on an interdisciplinary basis.” 

Known for pioneering the use of recycled materials in performance knits, Polartec also eco-engineered new processes at its plants to reduce fiber fragments, including installing customized vacuum and filtering systems for surface finishing machinery and upcycling captured fabric waste for reuse in other products. These efforts also extend to other product innovations, including 2018’s Polartec Power Air, constructed to contain lofted fibers to prevent breakage and maintain heat retention.

“While performance fabrics contribute a small percentage of the fibers fragments shed by the global textile industry, Polartec has been researching root causes and mitigation strategies for many years,” said Dr. Kesh. “Shed Less Fleece is a natural progression of this curiosity toward our goal of reducing fiber fragment shedding to near zero in all our performance fabrics.”

Polartec Shed Less Fleece will launch in the U.S. and be available to customers beginning March 1. The brand plans to apply the Shed Less process to other fabric platforms and manufacturing facilities worldwide. 

*Polartec used the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) TM212-2021 test method for fiber fragment release during home laundering. This test was conducted with large sample sizes to account for variability. The testing concluded that Shed Less Fleece reduced fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85 percent compared to the baseline fabric. 

**TextileMission was a three-year collaborative initiative of academia and industry to reduce the impact of textile microplastics funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Founding partners include The Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry, Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Science; TU Dresden, Institute of Water Chemistry; Vaude Sport; WWF Germany; Adidas AG; Henkel AG; Miele & CIE; and Polartec, LLC. 

Photo courtesy Polartec