Australian biomaterial technology company Nanollose says it has created the first wearable garment using the company’s eco-friendly ‘tree-free rayon’ fibre (Nullarbor), sourced from sustainable coconut waste.

The sweater, the company adds, marks a breakthrough for an industry that is urgently seeking sustainable alternatives to clothing made from traditional rayon and cotton, both of which cause significant environmental issues.

Wayne Best, executive chairman at Nanollose, said; “We have successfully taken waste and created clothing, and we have done it following industrial protocol. We didn’t have to cut down any trees to create this sweater, and we have now demonstrated that our ‘tree-free rayon’ fibre can be used in the same way as other commonly-used fibres to make clothing and textiles, without the hefty environmental footprint.”

He added: “We believe that we are the only company producing ‘tree-free rayon’ fibres from waste, and we have now reached a point where our technology is moving out of the laboratory and into the factory. Once we achieve this increased scale, manufactures will have an alternative eco-friendly option available to them. Progressive brands and companies are starting to facilitate this new shift by involving themselves deeper in the supply chain and searching for feasible, sustainable long-term alternatives. This is evident in the increasing number of enquires we have received over the past six months.”

Nanollose’s biomaterial technology process begins in a facility where microbes naturally ferment liquid waste products from food industries into cellulose, a cotton-like a raw material that then is transformed into their Nullarbor fibre.

Their process to produce cellulose requires very little land, water or energy and a production cycle is just 18 days, compared to the eight months seen in the cotton industry.

Moreover, to ensure Nanollose can supply future partners with commercial qualities of fibre, the company is developing a supply chain within an ecosystem around waste from the Indonesian coconut industry (along with waste streams from other industries), and aims to significantly increase fibre production over the next 3-6 months.

Earlier in June, Nanollose entered in a binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with global fashion retailer Inditex, which owns Zara, to work on supplying samples of various materials for testing and prototyping, with the view to Nanollose gaining valuable commercial feedback.