Italian Designers Create Silk-like Fabric With Orange Peels

The peels of oranges are a by-product that is now used to make an ecological and sustainable fabric. A fabric that in a high degree of purity is similar to the silk that is already used by luxury designers in the competitive world of fashion. We are talking about  Orange Fiber.

The peels of the orange are being used to create a high quality ecological fabric. This initiative began in 2017 by the Italian Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, in the city of Catania. This product has already been used for clothing design by the haute couture brand Salvatore Ferragamano.

The pilot plant extracts the cellulose fiber from the orange peel and other residues through the use of chemical reagents. The fibers are transformed into yarn, used to make a biodegradable fabric, comparable in characteristics with silk.

When used in its purest form, the threads can become very soft. They are also light and can be opaque or shiny depending on the requirements of the garment you want to manufacture.

The company has received international patents and various recognitions. In 2016 H&M awarded him a  prize of 150,000 euros for the improvement of the company’s production and expansion processes.

According to the company, every year, in Italy alone, 700 thousand tons of citrus waste are generated  by the fruit juice industry, that is, there will be excess raw material to make all the product that is needed. A raw material that is free, since that waste right now generates expenses for companies.

Orange Fiber.

Orange Fiber is a textile that is obtained by extracting the cellulose from the fibers that are discarded from the pressing and industrial processing of oranges. The fiber, through nanotechnology techniques, is also enriched with citrus essential oil. The result is a vitamin tissue that nourishes the skin like a non-greasy body lotion. This innovative idea has the potential to bring sustainability to the textile industry, addressing the environmental issue of citrus waste production and creating employment opportunities in disadvantaged lands.

Advantages of this ecological fabric.

  • A sustainable product is manufactured by taking advantage of the waste from the juice sector.
  • Designers have the opportunity to work with an environmentally sustainable product.
  • It can help raise awareness for end consumers.
  • It is an example of industrial ecology.
  • Reduces solid waste.
  • The product is of quality.
  • It can be replicated in other countries in a simple way.

Orange Fiber continues to grow.

Orange Fiber is the first and only brand in the world to produce a proprietary material from citrus juice by-products, for the purpose of creating quality fabrics. Its fabrics are made of a silk cellulose thread that can be mixed with other materials. In its purest form, 100% citrus fabric is super lightweight, has a silky smooth feel, and can be opaque or iridescent depending on production needs.

It all started in 2011. Adriana Santanocito, specialized in textile design and innovation, and Enrica Arena, an expert in communication and marketing, were studying in Milan when they invented orange fiber. Adriana, for her thesis, was conducting research on a sustainable, vitamin-enriched textile made from citrus residues. Enrica, her roommate at the time, embraced the idea adding to it her experience in communication and marketing. The thesis became a project at the Milan Polytechnic, after the feasibility study, the team patented the Orange Fiber. With the financial support of Trentino Sviluppo and the help of two business angels and a lawyer, Orange Fiber officially became an innovative startup based in Catania and Rovereto in February 2014. In September 2014, the Fibra Naranja prototype was presented in occasion of the Expo Gate in Milan.

The company now has a team of 12 people, but has expansion plans in the short term. It operates from a local juice processing plant, where it sources its waste material for free.

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