5 Most Common Misconceptions about Spinnova

It’s always great to get insight on how people outside the company see us. We often get the kind of questions that show that people are very excited for the fibre innovation, but also somewhat confused about what we do and who’s who in the (Finnish) innovation scene.

This is understandable, since we’re seeing a number of sustainable fibre innovations in Finland alone at the moment, which is something we can all be very excited and proud about! To correct some misunderstandings, we put together a small list of the most common ones we see.

1. This is a man-made cellulosic.

No. Our process is not a regenerating process. It does not use dissolved pulp and there is no dissolving involved in any stage of the process. This also means we don’t use any harmful chemicals. There are several fibre innovations out there that use dissolved pulp, but can avoid using harmful chemicals like sulfur, which is a step in the right direction.

Spinnova is not a man-made fibre, nor a biosynthetic. The chemical compound of this fibre is the same as paper’s, although the handfeel and mechanical properties are closest to cotton. Sound too amazing to be true? Well, it’s not.

2. This is a nanocellulose / post-consumer waste circulating innovation.

No. Our fibre falls into natural fibre category (fibre generic class). Our raw material is micro fibrillated cellulose, which means that the fibrils within the fibre are larger than in the nano level. Nanocellulose substance is gel-like, whereas micro fibrillated cellulose is more like a paste. Due to the different consistency, nanocellulose is used for applications such as biomedical solutions.

The fibre is in fact a circular product, as it can be ground back into the micro level and reused several times in our process. However, our raw material is either pulp from FSC-certified wood or cellulosic waste streams. One of the waste streams we are looking into is cotton, but it’s too early to say whether it will work in our process.

Of course we hope so, because especially using post-consumer cotton waste would have a big environmental impact. For example, Lenzing’s Refibra and a Finnish innovation called Infinited Fibre Company are able to convert cotton scraps into new fibre sustainably.

The problem with post-consumer cotton is that a vast majority of our cotton apparel contains other materials such as nylon threading and hence, the material is not pure cellulose and separation techniques are still emerging.

3. Our pilot is being built in Äänekoski.

No. We do have a pilot already running but not in Äänekoski – that’s Metsä Fibre and Itochu’s sustainable fibre production joint venture pilot that is under construction. Our pilot is also in Central Finland, in Jyväskylä. The innovations are also somewhat different, however both a big step in the right direction from the current materials.

There is room and need for everyone in the market, and we support all our peers in scaling up their innovations as soon as possible. We’re especially proud of all of the Finnish cellulose-based innovations in both textiles and packaging, fighting the good fight for the climate and the environment.

4. Mrs Jenni Haukio’s gown in the presidential Independence Day ball 2018 was made of Spinnova.

No. That gown was made of Ioncell, a sustainable fibre innovation of the Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. Prototypes of apparel made of our fibre will be seen in the near future, but haute couture? Well, that remains to be seen.

Our fibre is cotton-like material, and we don’t want to try and make it like silk, satin or other evening gown like materials. Our first demo products, i.e. prototypes of actual commercial products, will be something that the fibre is great for as it is, and that’s already covers a number of applications.

5. Anyone can try this fibre now or at least get a sample.

Unfortunately not. The fibre is still being developed and it’s not commercially available, nor is it produced 24/7 in our pilot facility. We only provide samples to our commercial partners.

We have chosen to start from “the top”; work with textile brand owners so that they can implement our fibre in their supply chains as soon as it’s available. The material will mainly be available through the brands that have chosen to work with us.

The road from this piloting phase to our vision, where products made of Spinnova fibre will be in shops everywhere is not as simple as one may think, but every decision we make is based on our vision and takes us closer to achieving it.

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