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WAKEFIELD – Did you know that fruit waste can be used to create clothing? Or that glitter can be made from sources that are better than traditional plastic? Well they can. And in today’s podcast, Mike Schragger talks to Enrica Arena and Saba Gray, the brains behind two new material innovations that could help change the way designers think about the materials we use to create our fashion products.

Material innovations will be a big part of the move towards a textile industry with a lower impact on the environment, says both Enrica Arena co-founder at Orange Fiber, an Italian business that makes textile fibres from citrus fruit and Saba Gray, founder of Bioglitz, which makes the world’s first plant-based glitter.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Arena explains how Orange Fiber srl transforms waste by-products from the citrus food and beverage industry into textile fibres that have already been used in luxury, high-end fabrics by the likes of Silvio Ferragamo. “We take all the waste that is left, everything that is not used for consumption, extract the cellulose from the peel, seeds and pith and from this waste convert it into silky fibres,” she says.

There is a surprisingly large amount of potential raw material that usually goes straight to waste in the citrus fruit industry. “Just in Italy there is around 700,000 tonnes of waste from oranges,” Arena explains, “and there’s lots more citrus waste available in Brazil, the USA and Mexico.”

Orange Fiber has already been a recipient of the first Global Change Awards back in 2016, winning a grant of €150,000 and a year of innovation accelerator provided by the H&M Foundation.

Meanwhile, Mike Schragger also talks to Saba Gray from US-based Bioglitz, which addresses the overlooked problem of glitter – a single-use plastic made from dyed polyester films that is widely used in the fashion industry.

“I was working in New York in sustainable fashion when the idea came to me,” said Bioglitz co-founder Saba Gray. “But I was aware that glitter is basically polyester that is washed down the drain and that a biodegradable, plant-based alternative was a preferred solution.”

The company’s glitter is actually sourced from cellulose fibres derived from eucalyptus trees that are grown in southern Europe.

“We work with only FSC certified plantations, although ideally we’d like to have a circular system in place for our product,” she says.

Common glitter materials used in the fashion industry include copolymer plastics, including polyesters, aluminum foil, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides – but are often overlooked in the conversation about textiles and sustainability.

The short podcast is full of useful nuggets, insights and a lot of (citrus-based) food for thought on how our clothing could and should be designed in future.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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