YKK Corporation — famed maker of zippers and other apparel ingredients — says it has developed an environmentally friendly water repellent “AquaGuard NATULON” zipper. YKK said it will spend about one year gradually replacing its conventional water repellent AquaGuard zipper with the environmentally friendly AquaGuard NATULON zipper, which utilizes a tape made of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic.
The original AquaGuard zipper has a polyurethane laminated water repellent tape and has been well received by brand customers for the 20 years since its launch in 2002.
For the recently developed AquaGuard NATULON zippers, YKK not only adopted a green specification using recycled PET tape, and a fluorine-free water repellent, but it also improved the zipper’s opening/closing operability, as well as the appearance of the zipper.
Key Points of the AquaGuard NATULON Zipper Development
(1) Switching to a green specification as an initiative toward achievement of the YKK Sustainability Vision 2050
YKK announced the YKK Sustainability Vision 2050, which is the Company’s sustainability goal for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Goals were set up under five themes: climate change, material resources, water resources, chemical management, and respect of people. YKK is engaged in initiatives to achieve ten Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to these themes.
By using recycled PET for the tape, the AquaGuard NATULON zipper contributes to resource utilization and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, switching the main material used in the water repellent finish (film) to one that is fluorine-free also leads to improvement of the manufacturing process environment. This move also meets the tightening of organic fluorine compound usage regulations in Europe and elsewhere.
(2) Improvement of zipper opening/closing operability
The AquaGuard® zipper is being widely used in wear and gear for fields such as sports and hardcore outdoor activities, including mountain climbing. In such items as sportswear, there are many situations in which the wearer needs to open or close a zipper while moving or wearing gloves. For this reason, the zipper used needs to open and close smoothly. To ensure that AquaGuard NATULON zippers can be used in such fields without worry, YKK made improvements to the structure of zipper parts such as the chain and slider, improving the pin insertion and the sliding force when opening and closing the zipper. Also improvement of the zipper sliding force as compared with conventional AquaGuard zippers.
(3) Improvement of appearance
By reviewing the zipper chain configuration and processing conditions, a flatter appearance has been achieved.
“The AquaGuard NATULON zipper fulfills the desires of our customers that had been expressed in the past for a switch to green specifications as well as to improve operability,” said Hisashi Yoneshima, Vice President, Product Strategy & Development Division, Global Sales Division of YKK. “The improvement of its appearance has also been achieved, and the zipper has been reborn into one that can be used with even less worry. YKK will continue to pursue further functionality of its fastening products while promoting the development of products that are friendly to the environment and will contribute to the achievement of a sustainable society.”
YKK Sustainability Vision 2050
The Vision is YKK’s sustainability goal for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Goals were set up under five themes: climate change, material resources, water resources, chemical management, and respect of people. YKK is engaged in initiatives for the achievement of 10 related SDGs.
YKK solves the most complex fastening and attaching challenges. Since the company’s founding in Tokyo in 1934, YKK has continuously set industry standards for quality, innovation, and sustainability in the production of zippers, plastic hardware, hook and loop fasteners, webbing tapes, and snap and buttons. YKK’s “solutions-first” approach leverages its extensive product and machinery portfolio, engineering expertise, and integrated production, service, and supply chain solutions in 70+ countries/regions, leaving it well-positioned to support the growth of customers of all sizes and adapt to their evolving business needs. Guided by the CYCLE OF GOODNESS philosophy – no one prospers without rendering benefit to others – YKK aims to contribute to a sustainable society through its products and manufacturing operations and constantly seeks new ways to serve the changing needs of its customers while at the same time investing in its employees and giving back to its communities.