The technical feasibility of natural fibers created by the selected innovators using agricultural waste such as rice husks, hemp, wheat straw, banana and pineapple will be accessed by the consortium project “Untapped agricultural waste project”. The aim is to explore new sources of feedstocks to help the agriculture and the textile industry towards net-zero.
The 18 month ‘Untapped Agricultural Waste Project’ brings together partners of Fashion for Good, Amsterdam/Netherlands, as adidas AG (Germany), Bestseller (Danmark), Vivobarefoot (Germany) and supply chain partner Birla Cellulose (India), as well as 6 innovators to explore innovations that can repurpose agricultural waste into viable new natural fiber blends. These fiber blends offer alternatives to conventional fibers and have the potential to displace virgin fibers derived from unsustainable materials such as oil. With the support of catalytic funding from Laudes Foundation (formerly C&A Foundation), Zug/Switzerland, the project also leverages findings from their 2021 report, ‘Spinning Future Threads’ authored by the Institute for Sustainable Communities (USA), the World Resources Institute India and Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands). The report maps agricultural waste in 8 countries across South and Southeast Asia, identifying the untapped opportunities in agricultural waste streams including rice husks, wheat straw, banana and pineapple production, which are the focus of this project.
The 6 fiber innovators, AltMat (India), Bananatex (Switzerland), Chlorohemp (India), Agraloop by Circular Systems (USA), HempTex (India) and 9Fiber (USA), will be further developing a variety of different natural fibers and fiber blends with a focus on trailing the highest percentage of agricultural waste, while also achieving the necessary performance requirements. Birla Cellulose will work closely with the innovators providing expertise to develop and prepare their new materials for wider adoption in the fashion supply chain, with the participating project brand partners supporting the testing and eventual scaling of these fibers.
This first phase of the project concludes in December 2022. To further drive supply chain adoption and move beyond lab scale, the next phase of the project will pilot the fibers from selected innovators in collaboration with partner brands and supply chain players in commercial facilities to produce larger quantities. This next phase ultimately aims to further enable brand offtake agreements and financing to facilitate scaling.