This Startup's Wooden Apparel Could Revolutionize Clothing
When we think of a wooden T-shirt, we think of a rigid, vaguely shirt-shaped hunk of wood complete with splinters and maybe a few termites. Obviously, this is not realistic, as wooden fibers like bamboo and rayon are used in textiles all the time.
One Finnish startup is using wood to create apparel with a new process that could also revolutionize apparel recycling.
Spinnova, based in Jyväskylä, Finland, is looking for eco-friendly alternatives to fibers like cotton and rayon, which require the use of chemicals that can pollute water and cause health problems for workers. Spinnova uses a process that creates only evaporated water as a byproduct, and requires much less water during the production stage than common cotton manufacturing. It also doesn't require any pesticides or farmland, according to a story published by Fast Company.
"We have to find better options for the future," Janne Poranen, CEO and cofounder of Spinnova, told Fast Company.
Spinnova creates the apparel by using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp that it grinds into a "gel-like material," which flows through the company's proprietary machinery into a network of fibers that are spun and dried. The finished product can be knit or woven to create clothing, shoes and other textiles.
Why is it crucial to develop new, sustainable textile fibres? How does Spinnova contribute to this? Watch our new video + Don't forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel! https://t.co/c0SUL6UP0V pic.twitter.com/xwLpA8TIWf
— SPINNOVA® (@SpinnovaLtd) June 29, 2018
The company's location plays a major role in its mission. Finland has a wealth of forests that are sustainably managed, and according to Fast Company, half of Finland's annual wood harvest is turned into fabric, rather than paper or furniture.
The company has also received investment from a company in Brazil that harvests eucalyptus trees to create materials.
Aside from creating the wooden apparel from scratch, Spinnova's machinery could eventually recycle clothing made from cellulose wood into a higher quality fiber, which runs counter to most recycling programs that result in a lower quality end-product.
Unlike recycling jeans or other cotton materials (which are commonly used in insulation or other non-clothing products), Spinnova can create high quality products because the manufacturing relies on "nano-sized fibers" already, so grinding up existing items doesn't degrade the quality.
Spinnova plans to start producing the apparel by the end of this year as its pilot program, through which it hopes to demonstrate that the process works on a large scale.
We will not be producing (much) fibre. Our main business model of the future is to licence the technology to brands - this way the disruptive innovation spreads wider than if we just start making fibre in our factory 😉 After treatments are therefore up to the brand value chain.
— SPINNOVA® (@SpinnovaLtd) August 3, 2018