Energy and raw materials in for a step change

EmmiFrom where we stand, the world looks very innovative, even adventurously so, at the moment. Almost every week, someone suggests us something new to look into – both raw materials and waste streams of all sorts. To us, this speaks volumes, of a step change in how we are starting to look at natural resources and using them in a more circular, less wasteful way.

We mostly have to say no thanks to new experiments, as we have our own commitments to certain raw materials. Also, even though our process is simple, developing the outcome into a textile-ready fibre doesn’t happen overnight. We are committed to only using FSC-certified wood and waste streams in our process. The latter carries a huge sustainability potential.

From wasting energy to “waste to energy”

The prospects are massive even just with agricultural waste, which we have started working on with the energy company Fortum. Here, we’re not just taking waste and turning it into fibre, but actually sparing the planet from the emissions and pollution that burning the waste would cause, while turning the residue into energy.

Climate change contributing emissions are considerable with the most common agricultural residue, straw. In northern parts of India alone, million of tonnes of straw stubble is being burned annually despite bans, polluting the air around Delhi. According to very promising trials we have made, stubble makes great textile fibre.

Less bad is not good

With our method, this doesn’t mean any compromises in the sustainability of the process. Turning waste into a new product of any kind with a process that wastes water, energy, emissions or chemicals would just be a lesser evil. So would any raw material that’s not either responsibly grown or a waste that would otherwise have a less sustainable end of life.

Mind you, onboarding waste based materials doesn’t mean new technology development. The same technology that we are now piloting in Finland applies on the waste streams just as well as virgin wood raw material.

Our partnership with Fortum is a great match between several environmental megatrends: the energy industry’s shift away from fossil fuels, the textile industry’s need for sustainable materials, and cellulose innovation sprung from Finland’s legacy forest industry, carried out with the highest standards of sustainability.

I think this is only the beginning of a flood of resource efficient, collaborative efforts we’ll be seeing on a global level in the future. And it’s about time.

Stay sustained <3

Emmi