They are using by-products from citrus juice production to create a new textile.
In Italy alone, 700,000 tons of citrus by-products are dumped each year. What if the peels could be turned into clothes?
Ever since she saw a picture of a pile of waste fruit from her home region, Adriana Santanocito has harboured a dream of turning it into fabric. Adriana contacted a lab at the Polytechnico di Milano, where she could demonstrate that her idea was feasible: extracting cellulose from citrus waste and then spin it into a silk-like, biodegradable fibre that can be used in various ways, from making dresses to shirts and scarves. Adriana reached out to Enrica Arena to help promote the idea.
Enrica and Adriana submitted the innovation for a Global Change Award, and their entry received a grant of €150,000.
Since then, the team has progressed fast. In 2017, they had a collection with the exclusive Italian fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo, who used 10,000 thousand metres of Orange Fiber fabric to create the first-ever collection made of citrus peel.
The team has started a partnership with a producer in Sicily to supply more raw material, meaning citrus peel. They’re also exploring alternative partnerships for fibre spinning to be able to scale up the production.
“Thanks to the support received by the Global Change Award network, we significantly moved forward with our R&D, laying a solid foundation for the future of our company. We have been exposed to opportunities of visibility and networking within the fashion industry, that helped us develop our business model and product better. The collaboration with the members of the H&M Foundation and with other winners is still strong, supporting us throughout any phase of our growth,” says Enrica.
Owners of idea: Enrica Arena, Moreno Petrulli, Adriana Santanocito and Francesco Virlinzi
Innovation name: Orange Fiber