Australian technology company Nanollose has developed a sustainable fabric from Nullarbor, a fiber created using natural coconut by-products. This fabric is the first of its kind marking a breakthrough for an industry that is urgently seeking sustainable alternatives to rayon and cotton, both of which cause significant environmental issues. Nullarbor is named from Latin phrase nullus arbor, which means “no trees” (much like the Nullarbor Plain near the Great Australian Bight).
There is an increasing demand from both consumers and clothing manufacturers, for fibers that do not rely on or damage the environment, said Nanollose CEO Alfie Germano adding that these fibers were synthesized into microbial cellulose and then converted into fiber using our unique technology.
“To create the rayon fibers that are currently used in clothing and textiles, countless trees have to be cut down, chipped and then treated with hazardous chemicals, and to make enough cotton for a single t-shirt it takes 2,700 liters of water,” Germano said.
Nanollose is best known for its ability to create “fermented fashion” out of beer and wine. The technology is based on the work of Perth scientist and winemaker Gary Cass, who accidentally discovered a new type of material when he ruined a batch of wine.
By contrast, no trees or plants are impacted by the production of Nanollose’s Nullarbor fiber and fabric, and the process requires very little water. The result is a fiber that can be used to make clothing and textiles, but with a dramatically reduced environmental footprint.
Germano added that the company is initially tapping into the established coconut industry to secure pilot-scale supply of the raw material, but when operating on a larger scale, waste streams from bigger industries will come into play. “Our process has the potential to convert a number of biomass waste products from the beer, wine, and liquid food industries into fibers using very little land, water or energy in the process.”
Consumers are demanding more environmental responsibility from their favorite brands and retailers. With an increasing consciousness around ‘how we make things’ and issues like water wastage and toxicity of pollutants increasingly on consumers’ minds, the industry is now at an inflection point.
It is very evident that consumers are going to reward progressive fashion brands and companies who facilitate this eco-change, as they are increasingly seeking knowledge around how their clothing is made and what effects its production is having on the planet.
“My 30-year history in the textile and apparel industry has opened my eyes to the environmental concerns that plague the industry. My vision is for Nanollose to be at the forefront of offering fashion and textile groups a viable alternative, and decreasing the industry’s reliance on environmentally burdensome, raw materials,” Germano concluded.