Vollebak, a British brand of men’s sports and adventure wear, is launching a line of sweaters made from old bulletproof vests and firefighter suits. The Garbage Sweater is made from 70 percent recycled meta-aramid and 30 percent recycled para-aramid fibers. Firefighter suits are typically made of meta-aramid, which is very flame retardant. Para-aramid, used to make bulletproof vests, is spun using a different technique to create a highly crystalline fiber that is five times stronger than steel. Aramid fibers do not decompose for hundreds of years and cannot be burned because they do not combust. The same properties that make them tough enough to stop bullets or flames also make these materials particularly difficult to recycle. That is why they usually end up in landfills.

The material for the Garbage Sweater is made by a production partner in France. The process begins by shredding a bunch of old fire suits, old bulletproof vest, and unwanted fabric scraps created during their original manufacturing processes to pull out all the fibers. These are then cleaned, blended and spun to produce the new material, which is then sewn into a sweater. The resulting material is described by Vollebak as “warm, soft and fire-resistant.” Each year, 500 tons of firefighters’ clothing is thrown away in France alone, where the material for the Garbage Sweater comes from.

The Garbage Sweater was inspired by Vollebak’s Garbage Watch, which is built entirely from disposed tech components.

Photo: © vollebak.com