In Italy alone, a country that produces nearly two million tons of oranges per year, some 700,000 tons of orange juice leftovers, such as pulp and peels, goes to waste every year. The article is about Orange Fiber Fabric.
The question leads to invention and Invention leads to innovation. Can we make a textile from citrus waste? This is the question that came to the mind of two Sicilian girls and brought them to develop one of the most innovative green startups in Italy.
So what better way to dispose of all the orange juice by-products than to turn it into sustainable fabrics? One Italian company based in Catania has developed a technique to do exactly that, and its name speaks for itself: Orange Fiber.
Orange Fiber Fabric
Orange Fiber is a textile made by extracting the cellulose from the fibers that are discarded from the industrial pressing and processing of the oranges.
Everything started in 2011. Adriana Santanocito, specialized in design and innovative textile and Enrica Arena, an expert in communication and marketing, were students in Milan when they invented Orange Fiber. Adriana, for her thesis, was conducting research on a sustainable and vitamin-enriched textile from citrus waste.
Enrica, her flatmate at that time, embraced the idea adding to it her communication and marketing expertise. The thesis became a project at the Polytechnic of Milan, after the feasibility study the team patented 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 was presented the Orange Fiber prototype in the occasion of the Expo Gate of Milan.
Orange Fiber an Innovative Textile Fiber
Orange Fiber has a special connection with the Sicilian territory. It is not only the place of origin of the two co-founders but also the location candidate to establish the production of their sustainable textile. The citrus sector is suffering and in general, the labor market is stagnant, especially for young people.
The project potentially can have important positive social and economic effects on the island. From an environmental perspective, it is not less interesting. Sicily has massive production of citrus and consequently production of waste materials from the industry, up to 700 tons per year. Orange fiber is offering a solution to the problem of reducing the amount of these materials.
As far the idea has won several awards at the national and international level such as the UNECE Ideas for Change Award in April 2015. Also, the future is promising. The possible uses of the fiber are varied and the presence in the market, from cosmetic textile to home textile, until developing their own fashion line, is relevant.
Orange Fiber has many characteristics to succeed. Great strengths are the innovative and sustainable approach applied to the textile and fashion industry, the respect and valorization of local resources, and the internationalization of the products able to spark the interest of the biggest fashion brands.