Why isn’t every jacket like our 73 Zero insulated jacket? A circularity story.

Bam Blog 73zero Jackets Image1 Bamboo Clothing

Our 73 Zero insulated jacket is completely circular: it’s made from recycled materials; it’s 100% recyclable and it never needs to go to landfill.

But more than that, it’s designed for performance. It’s insulated with Thermore® Ecodown® and finished with PFC-free Teflon EcoElite™ offering up to 6.5k water repellence. It keeps you warm even when wet and then it dries quickly.

With 73% of all clothes going to landfill or incinerated, BAM is committed to being fully circular – our goal is that every garment we make will use recycled or natural materials and then be fully recyclable. This ambitious goal is part of our mission to be impact positive by 2030.

To do that we have to completely rethink how our clothes our made.

So why isn’t every jacket like our 73 Zero insulated jacket?

The short answer is because this jacket is, quite simply ground-breaking. There’s hardly anything quite like it.

To make a performance jacket that is 100% recyclable means rethinking pretty much everything (and yes, that took years).

Here’s how we did it.

Starting at the end

Have you ever asked yourself how is clothing recycled? The truth with all recyclable things is that they’re only recyclable if there is a facility that knows how to recycle them. To design this jacket, we had to start at the end and first work out how it would be recycled. We collaborated with Project Plan B whose innovative technology recaptures polyester from a garment at the end of its life.

Project Plan B’s process returns our polyester jacket back to polyester pellets that can be used again and again, for another jacket or for any other polyester item.

The challenge was that for it to work, our entire jacket would need to be made from polyester, every element, even the thread.

We knew how to make a performance jacket if we could use all the materials available to us. But if we could only use polyester we’d have to rethink everything.

Working with Polyester: Recyclable vs biodegradable

BAM has always worked with bamboo. It’s one of the world’s most sustainable crops and is the inspiration behind BAM. David started the company when he discovered that bamboo could be turned into a supersoft high-performance fabric.

In a circular economy, raw materials need to do one of two things. Either they need to biodegrade, or they need to be endlessly reusable. Polyester is endlessly reusable but only if it’s not mixed with other materials. We began working out how to make a performance jacket made from polyester alone.

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The insulation

We choose 100% recycled polyester Thermore® Ecodown® because it’s made from the same fabric as the rest of the jacket so it doesn’t have to be removed before recycling (as you would have to do with down).

It’s also made from recycled plastic bottles.

There’s a lot of exciting innovation in recycling and turning recycled plastic bottles into clothing and saving them from landfill is one of them. The problem is that using recycled bottles (or recycled anything) and turning them into a single-use item that will then itself go to landfill is just postponing the moment the bottle ends up in landfill.

If a plastic bottle can be used to make something that will be recycled again and again, that is a much better use of that bottle.

We know the plastic bottles we use will go on to be recycled again and again after they’ve been part of a 73 Zero insulated jacket.

Working without elastic

We couldn’t use elastane as it’s not made of polyester so we had to work out how to make a jacket that would have a snug and comfortable fit without elastane.

Firstly, our cuffs are made from a narrow rib to create stretch without elastane. Then, to make it work even harder we created a double cuff that you can slot your gloves into so no part of your wrist is exposed. This is Britain after all. We all know what winter is like.

Which is also why we used a bungey cord at the hem and toggle at the neck to ensure a wind-proof fit. All elastane-free.

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Zips and trims

This is where it got really tricky. This is a high-performance jacket which meant the trims, toggles and zip slide must perform well and they must last for years.  Polyester simply wasn’t strong enough. Our solution was to work with other materials but to make sure they were easy for Project Plan B to remove and recycle separately. One of our biggest challenges was to make a zip that was durable, recycled and recyclable. After much experimentation we chose the YKK NATULON® zip. The tape and teeth are made from recycled polyester. The zinc zip slider will need to be removed to be recycled separately. We’re still working to find a polyester one that is durable.

Making our jacket from recycled materials

As well as making it 100% recyclable, we also wanted to make it out of 100% recycled materials. The only element of this jacket that isn’t recycled is the pocket zips. We’re confident we can fix that in the next year.

You might see other jackets claim to be 100% recycled but we’ve found that’s because the claim only applies to the fabric of the jacket. It doesn’t include the trims.

At BAM we’re innovating for you and the planet, rethinking how to make performance clothing to reduce our  impact.  It matters because 73% of clothing ends up in landfill or incinerated. This jacket never will.

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