Ruby Moon: Sportswear Championing Sustainability

RubyMoon is a sportswear brand that promotes environmental sustainability while offering vibrant, high-quality, and affordable swim and activewear that prioritises design, functionality, and ethical manufacturing.

About the Project

Sportswear is intrinsically composed of a range of polymeric substances (polyamide and elastane for example), i.e., different fibres with different chemical and morphological properties, which are processed individually via melt or wet spinning. Melt or wet spinning cannot process polymers of two kinds which have a varying degree of thermal properties. Just collecting post-consumer wastes or post-industrial wastes to be treated via melt or wet spinning, hence, is technically impossible for the presences of these different polymers, including a range of chemicals and auxiliary substances.

Therefore, separation of polymers is the only way forward for a commercially feasible recycling process. Thermomechanical process does separate elastances from nylon, but the rate of separation is not fully precise, which might result in some sort of impurities in the recycled products. Also, the process involves multiple steps with higher energy consumption, while provision of recovering elastane is less or nil. To mitigate these disadvantages, a chemical dissolution process is under trial in this process. The process involves use of a biobased solvents that are environmentally friendly and fully recoverable during the process. The process, compared to thermomechanical processes, consumes less energy. So far, the lab-based trials have demonstrated the efficacy of separating elastane and nylon, along with the reuse of recovered bio-based solvents.

As RubyMoon aims to authenticate its products, it is also aiming to impart a unique product signature to its products via embedding tracer particles within the nylon filament, this will also enable ‘take back’ and recycling. Via a special technique, the tracer particles will be embedded within the nylon filaments, and the corresponding fabrics can be scanned to ensure the presence of the tracers. The tracers will be durable enough to withstand the manufacturing processes including fabric manufacturing, dying/printing, and recycling. Hence, the tracers will be retained within the recycled filaments that would exhibit the authenticity of the claim that the recycled filaments have been used.

Overall, after the successful completion of the trails, RubyMoon will offer products that will fully comply with a circular – economy model along with environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling processes with a unique product signature.

It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Leeds and together find ways of making our products circular. Closing the loop on our textiles has been a long-held goal for RubyMoon, and we are very pleased to have taken the technical steps that bring us closer to success.’

Jo Godden, Founder, RubyMoon