Citrus fibre silk is made from the cellulose of by-products of the citrus industry by a Sicilian company called Orange Fiber who have patented a process to turn some of their local citrus residue deriving from citrus-processing activities, into an attractive wearable textile.Sources:
Like the real thing, Orange Fiber’s lightweight vegan silk can be dyed or printed on, opaque or shiny, and can be used with other materials, like cotton.
Brands like H&M ans Salvatore Ferragamo are already implementing it into their products.
Orange fibers was founded by Adriana Santanocito and her university colleague Enrica Arena in 2014. Adriana first had the idea of making sustainable textiles from what was naturally abundant, and widely wasted, in her native Sicilian city of Catania, in 2011.Ms Santonocito's concept was inspired by a question posed in her university dissertation. She found her answer in the university library and now she has a patent on it. Orange Fiber, which now has a team of 12 people, operates from a local juice-processing plant, where it gets its waste material for free.
The citrus fibre silk supply chain starts at farm level: the citrus fruits originate from farms in Italy. Some are then purchased by citrus processing plants, such as the company which supplies Orange Fiber with by-products.
The peels are processed with a patented method to extract the cellulose that is spun to form the final yarn. The fabric looks and feels like silk: although some say it is not as soft as regular silk it still has a soft touch and a shiny appearance. The biodegradable yarn can be spun with any type of existing yarn.
According to their statement Orange Fiber turns virtually more than 700,000 tonnes of by-product that the citrus processing industry produces every year in Italy into a high-quality fabric.
Of the 700,000 tons of citrus “pastazzo” produced in Italy each year, only a small proportion is used for animal feed and fertilizer, whilst most is typically discarded in landfill. So, diverting some of this waste into making citrus fibre limits negative environmental impacts—with the added advantage that no virgin materials are required in order to produce citrus fibre.
This regional production, as well as the fact that Orange Fiber is located on the same site as its citrus by-product supplier, limits the carbon footprint of the finished fabric. Citrus fibre silk is also biodegradable, and will therefore maintain that property when blended with a similarly biodegradable yarn.