Patagonia, a California-based outdoor apparel company, renowned for its commitment to eco-friendly practices, is taking wetsuit sustainability to a new level. In a pioneering move, the company is transforming old wetsuits into new ones, reducing waste and carbon footprint. By utilizing reclaimed carbon black, a key ingredient in neoprene, Patagonia aims to create a truly circular product. This innovative approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also sets a new standard for the industry.

The process begins at Patagonia's "Wetsuit Forge" in Ventura, California, where worn-out wetsuits are collected and broken down. Through advanced technology, these materials are then reincarnated into brand-new wetsuits, ready for another life of surfing adventures. This initiative represents a significant step towards sustainability in the $2 billion wetsuit market, challenging the traditional model of disposable fashion.

The initiative also addresses the environmental impact of neoprene, the petroleum-based synthetic rubber used in most wetsuits, and carbon black, a key ingredient in their production. Patagonia’s partnership with companies like Bolder Industries – a Colorado-based circular solutions provider for rubber, plastics, and petrochemical industries – aims to reclaim carbon black from old wetsuits, potentially reducing the need for virgin materials and cutting carbon emissions. By incorporating reclaimed materials into their wetsuits, Patagonia aims to close the loop on reuse and further minimize their environmental footprint.


Gilberto Bello, a Patagonia senior wetsuit engineer, repairs damaged wetsuits. | Photo by Bloomberg.

Through their collaboration with Bolder Industries, Patagonia seeks to leverage innovative industrial processes to reclaim carbon black from end-of-life tires, which Bolder Industries sells as BolderBlack. They plan to extend this process to their wetsuit production, creating a sustainable solution to both the carbon black conundrum and the recycling challenge.

To learn more about Patagonia’s efforts in wetsuit sustainability and their innovative use of reclaimed materials, read the full article by Bloomberg.