Qmilk, a German company founded by Anke Domaske spinning fibres out of milk. It is using milk that would have gone to waste to manufacture textile fibres using sustainable processes.
Domaske, who was searching for non-allergenic fabrics for her cancer-sufferer father, eventually milk proteins came to her interest. She found that the old process was too chemically laden and wanted a more environmentally friendly process that could produce a fibre so harmless, you can eat it.
According to Domaske, any kind of milk can be used but the safest is cow milk that's just turned sour to separate the protein. They get in powder form from dairies but they are revamping their collection system. It works like a big noodle machine, you add the protein powder â€“ it looks like flour â€“ to water and you mix it into dough. Then there's a nozzle at the end with teeny tiny holes that put out textile fibres instead of noodles.
The University of Berlin has found that Germans throw away around 2m tonnes of milk each year. Milk consists of more than 200 vitamins, minerals and proteins that can be processed and turned into resources. The future of food waste can be turned it into something useful. A reliance on sour milk might not seem scaleable but Domaske is adamant that current German dairy waste is enough to dress the whole US in a t-shirt.
Domaske pointed out that they only need a maximum of two litres of water and an 80Â°C temperature [to make 1kg of textiles]. They have low waste and the process takes five minutes. Everything in the manufacture of Qmilk uses 100% natural and renewable resources.
It feels like silk and one of its major advantages is it's antibacterial properties. Like silk, it's also temperature regulating, light, absorbent, compostable and flame resistant.
They have a transparent production chain. The press is welcome to film it and to be sustainable they understand that people want to look behind the scenes.
Their vision is to have a zero waste process that stretches right back to their resources. At the moment they turn the waste into powder which either goes back into their research or is delivered as a biological additive for the plastic industry.
Milk has over 200 ingredients which get wasted when milk isn't sold. Domaske wants to make use this as a resource. Qmilk fills a gap in a market that might unintentionally turn a blind eye to sustainable options and would like to build their collection system and spread the idea worldwide.
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