Waterborne, partly biobased PUDs: For more sustainable textile coatings

As one of the world’s biggest polluters, the textiles industry needs an urgent sustainability transformation. To make circularity a reality, the coated textiles value chain needs to work together on end-to-end solutions – from more sustainable raw materials to textile recycling technologies.
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The trend toward carbon-neutral textiles

The stage is set for change. Legislative and regulatory pressure is growing, via actions like the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. Credible certification and labeling are helping to increase value-chain transparency. And consumers are starting to demonstrate higher willingness to pay for textiles, when provided with third-party-verified information about a product’s environmental benefits. 

Against this backdrop, collaboration is key to driving the sustainability transition in textile coatings. That means working not only with other fiber and fabric players, but also with other industries whose sustainability best practices, technologies, and innovations can be applied to textiles.

How functional coatings support textile sustainability

Of course, textile coatings come with some built-in sustainability benefits. Functional coatings – making fabrics waterproof, breathable, resistant to abrasion, and more – deliver properties that boost durability as well as performance, and thereby contribute to reducing waste.

Carbon neutrality for coated textiles

Is a carbon-neutral future realistic or idealistic?

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The power of PUDs 

Many textile brand owners have set ambitious targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of CO2 emissions come from raw materials. Our portfolio of waterborne polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) is already making a positive impact in increasing sustainability and reducing emissions. The water-based textile coatings in our INSQIN® range have a global warming potential (GWP) up to 45% lower than solvent-based polymer resin equivalents – helping functional textile manufacturers reduce their environmental footprint. As a bluesign® system partner, we are demonstrating that our operations meet the highest standards for process control and resource use. We are also demonstrating that our products comply with the bluesign® system substance list (BSSL), a comprehensive list of restricted substances that takes common restricted substances lists (RSLs) into account.

What’s more, the partly biobased PUDs in our Impranil® CQ portfolio deliver a further GWP reduction of up to 48% at the same performance of conventional products – making textile coatings even more sustainable. Our continuously growing partly bio-based portfolio, containing 34–56% renewable carbon, can be easily dropped into existing formulations and is therefore an even more sustainable alternative for textile manufacturers. 

The use of renewable feedstock attributed via the mass balance approach in textile raw materials can be another key step towards more climate-neutral textile products. Mass balancing ensures the incorporation of specific feedstock material, such as biomass, early in the value chain. Our mass balance approach is certified by the third-party International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS standard..

We’re committed to developing waterborne, partly biobased, biodegradable coatings to make functional textiles even more sustainable. Meanwhile, we’re working with partners to develop viable recycling technologies that support circularity and help deliver the carbon-neutral coated textiles industry our world needs.

Dr. Torsten Pohl

Head of Global Textile Coatings, Covestro

Impact from end to end

In addition to supporting more eco-friendly fabric production, water-based PUDs also play an important role at the other end of the product life cycle. After all, although circularity is built on the pillars of reuse, recovery, and recycling, these outcomes are not always possible. For instance, it’s difficult to achieve this for coated textiles in applications such as agricultural or personal care products.

Biodegradable polymers are therefore another valuable solution for enabling the textiles industry’s sustainability transition. Our Impranil® DLN-SD, for instance, is a high-performance coating material that shows up to 66% degradation in water in 28 days (OECD test standard 301F) – thereby helping to lower the risk of microplastic leakage from discarded textiles. With the end-of-life impact of textiles being another key challenge for the industry (especially while effective textile recycling infrastructure remains a work in progress), biodegradable solutions have an important contribution to make.  

Textile recycling: An obstacle to overcome

While textile coatings support sustainability via their intrinsic functionality, they also make it harder to recycle garments at their end of life. Globally, solutions for separating waste textiles are still lacking. So it’s particularly important that we, as a leading industry player in textile coatings, closely engage in collaborations to develop new and improved textile recycling technologies, enabling the de-coating and reuse of materials to produce new fibers.

The (eventual) success of textile recycling will depend on the suitability of the materials fed into the system. This means coatings need to be designed for circularity, using raw materials and processes that maximize the value we can recover from used products.  

Key Benefits

  • Waterborne: Our waterborne INSQIN® coatings have a GWP 45% lower than solvent-based coatings
  • Partly biobased: Our Impranil® CQ portfolio delivers up to 48% further GWP reductions
  • Biodegradable: In testing, Impranil® DLN-SD degrades by 66% in water in 28 days
  • Functional: INSQIN® coatings deliver protective properties for comfort and durability
  • Premium quality: Across diverse applications, INSQIN® coatings are visually and haptically appealing


Biodegradable PU dispersion

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INSQIN® partly bio-based PU dispersions for textile coatings

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