In Italy, over 700,000 tonnes of citrus juice by-products are wasted every year. We spoke to the Italian brand Orange Fiber, who have innovated, patented and now manufacture a fabric out of these waste products. Meet Orange Fiber.
1) So, what is Orange Fiber and how do you create it?
Orange Fiber is the first patented material made from citrus juice by-products. Our citrus cellulose yarn can be used pure to create 100% citrus, biodegradable fabric which feels soft, silky and lightweight. It can also be blended with other materials and be opaque or shiny according to the designer’s needs.
The fiber is made through a process we innovated, in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano University. In our pilot plant in Sicily, the pastazzo (citrus juice by-product) is processed to extract the citrus cellulose, which is then sent to a partner in Spain to be spun into yarn. The yarn then returns to Italy, to our fabric producer in Como, where our exclusive fabrics are ready to be used by the fashion brands worldwide. This process has the potential to transform the 700,000 tonnes of pastazzo produced annually by the Italian citrus processing industry into high quality fabrics.
2) Why are you creating Orange Fiber?
With our Orange Fiber, we want to encourage sustainable design and production values within the fashion industry. We are engaging industry professionals to build sustainable supply chains and adopt recycled and sustainable raw materials. We also want to raise awareness amongst consumers about their shopping habits and encourage them to adopt a more conscious, more sustainable attitude to fashion.
3) What other projects in the sustainable textiles/fashion space you are excited about (done by you or others)?
Today it is easier to be excited about the sustainable fashion, with many incredible projects spread all around the world. Amongst these, we definitely love and admire:
- the Global Change Award, an innovation challenge by H&M Foundation, in collaboration with Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The award catalyses early innovations to help accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry. In 2015, its first year, our Orange Fiber was selected out of more than 2,700 projects from 112 different countries, awarding us with a grant of €150,000 and access to a one-year innovation accelerator.
- the Future Tech Lab, which is equal parts investment company, multinational accelerator and experimental laboratory. The Lab was founded by prominent fashion entrepreneur, Miroslava Duma to transform the fashion ecosystem, helping new technologies and sustainable innovations connect, collaborate, and create.
- the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, that works with businesses, government and academia to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Recently, in collaboration with the fashion designer Stella McCartney, the Foundation launched ‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’. This new report presents an ambitious vision for a textile sector based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, to society and to the environment. Our Orange Fiber is included alongside other disruptive materials, business models and technologies that could provide solutions in a new textiles economy.
- Eco-Age, which helps brands and businesses to grow by creating, implementing and communicating sustainability solutions. Founded by Livia Firth, Eco-Age has developed considerable connections with the world’s most influential voices in sustainability, driving global debate and focusing on the positive, social, and environmental impact of fashion. Eco-Age, in collaboration with Camera Nazionale della Moda (CNMI) launched the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia 2017, to celebrate sustainable innovation and production in fashion. At the awards ceremony, Orange Fiber received the Technology and Innovation Award, presented by Derek Blasberg and Miroslava Duma, recognising our important contributions in the fashion industry.
Projects like these mark the beginning of a new era; a bright, sustainable future for the fashion industry and the textiles sector as a whole.
4) How do you see the future of fashion?
Second to oil, fashion is the most polluting industry in the world. Each stage in a garment’s life threatens our planet’s resources: It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton, which is only equivalent to a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. In the process of transforming raw materials into clothes, up to 8,000 different chemicals are used. Fashion needs to adopt a sustainable and ethical business model, where the environmental and human costs are considered as important as profit. The key is to restart the fashion industry to take our world beyond the next season.
5) Anything else you’d like to add/say!?
We’re not the only ones excited about Orange Fiber. The first fashion collection created with our fabrics was by the Florentine maison Salvatore Ferragamo. For the ‘Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection’, we used a 110 dtex filament thread blended with silk to obtain a silky twill that looks, feels and functions the same as its silk homologue. Lastly, because Orange Fiber is a cellulose fibre, it can be used in much the same way as its man-made counterparts. Thanks to this, Orange Fiber can be dyed, coloured and printed on to create whatever look or feel you want.
What do you think of Orange Fiber? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @Amberoot, or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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This article is part of series “Future of Fashion Series”: