In central Finland the startup company Spinnova is thought to be the only company in the world that manufactures wood-based textile fibres completely free of chemicals.
Current fibre sources are problematic: the cultivation of cotton takes up a lot of land and needs large quantities of water for its production; oil-based fibres can pollute the environment with micro-plastics chemicals.
Spinnova’s solution is to produce textile fibres from wood-based materials mechanically. Softwood pulp is transformed into a material like sheep’s wool without using a single chemical. According to the company, 99% less water is used compared to the production of cotton.
“In practice, it would even be safe to eat the fibre we produce,” said Janne Poranen, CEO of Spinnova. “Our goal for this year and next is to finalise the optimisation of our first industrial concept.”
Spinnova’s fibre can be manufactured out of almost any kind of wood. The company’s main procurement partner is the Brazilian pulp giant Suzano Papel e Celulose, which makes pulp from eucalyptus but Spinnova can also utilise the long-fibre pulp derived from local softwoods.
This is not the only company currently developing textile fibre from wood-based material. Stora Enso, for example, is transforming dissolved cellulose into fabrics using the Ioncell method. This made headlines when the Finland’s First Lady Jenni Haukio celebrated independence wearing a wood-fibre gown at the Independence Day Reception 2018.
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