We have recently talked about projects that use food waste to create new materials, mostly prototypes and start-ups. Today we want to present Orange Fiber s.r.l., a company founded in 2014 by Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena and based in Catania, Sicily. Its aim is to recover citrus juice by-products by transforming them into exquisite fabrics, chosen by brands such as Ferragamo and Marinella for their collections.
In 2012, in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano, Adriana and Enrica developed an innovative process to create fabric using more than 700 thousand tons of by-products that every year the citrus processing industry produces in Italy, and which would otherwise be disposed of. In 2013 the company filed the patent in Italy, which was then extended to an international patent in 2014. In December 2015 the first pilot plant opened in Sicily.
Pressing the citrus waste, the company obtains a raw material similar to cellulose, which is extracted in the Catania plant. Then, this cellulose is sent to the company’s partners in Northern Europe, who are responsible for transforming it into the fiber. At that point, the material returns to Italy to be spun and the final product is sold to the companies. The fabrics produced so far include satin and poplin – obtained by weaving the yarn together with Como silk and cotton – and a 100% Orange Fiber twill. All fabrics are natural-white and can then be dyed, printed, colored, and washed like traditional ones.
Over time, the company’s efforts have been more than recognized, with various awards, from the National Award for Innovation “Premio dei Premi” 2016 (Italian Design) – Italian Republic, ADI, Association for Industrial Design up to the first edition of the Global Change Award of the H&M Foundation which awarded the company a contribution of 150 thousand euros. In 2017 the Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection was also included among the 300 works of the “Fashion from Nature” at V&A Museum in London.
Compared to existing man-made fibers from cellulose, orange fiber doesn’t require dedicated yields alternative to food consumption or dwelling on natural resources but reuses waste thus saving land, water, fertilizers , and environmental pollution – critical problems in the production phase of the textile industry. While proving the market viability of their textile, the company is committed to complete the process of research and development, optimize the costs of production and start replicating the plant in Italy and abroad.
Visit Orange Fiber to find out more about the company and follow all the updates and new collections on Instagram!
Photos by Orange Fiber, Vincenzo Leonardi and H&M