The researchers say the method of production behind the dress will enable a more sustainable textile industry

The researchers say the method of production behind the dress will enable a more sustainable textile industry

Researchers at the University of Borås in Sweden have created a dress made from paper from Swedish forests in a project aimed at producing textiles out of raw materials from the pulp industry.

The initiative – Establish Locally Grown Textiles in Sweden – is based on using raw material from spruce and pine forests, which was processed and refined into paper by Nordic Papers and Ahlstrom-Munksjö paper mills.

The unbleached and locally grown paper was then shipped to the textile cluster in the Sjuhärad region, spun into yarns at SKS Textile and turned into fabrics using knitting machines at the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås.

The prototype fabric was dyed by Sjuhäradsbygdens Färgeri and made into a "flexible dress" at Smart Textiles at the University of Borås.

The researchers assert this method of textile production will offer new business opportunities for the domestic industry in Sweden and create opportunities for a more sustainable textile industry.

Lena-Marie Jensen, the project leader for the Design for Recycling Project – one facet of the Establishing Locally Grown Textiles in Sweden programme – says while textiles produced from paper already exist, the "unique part" of the university's project is that the team has looked at the possibilities for recycling and challenges existing production and recycling techniques to "achieve a circular flow." 

"The need for textile fibres grows as the population of the earth increases and the general standard of living is higher. As people settle in cities and consume more, the need for sophisticated textiles also increase," says Jensen.

"This is why one finding of this project is that we need to take care of the raw material we have and reuse it. But there is also a need to supply new sustainable raw material that could be part of a circular flow.

"In order to solve the fibre needs of the future, we need a variety of solutions where paper could be one alternative to some products. Paper is also a bio-based material in our immediate surrounding and could be part of a closed cycle."