Textile maker Unitika has unveiled swimwear and clothes using a  corn-based environmentally-friendly fabric that can be decomposed  naturally in soil.

The fabrics were derived from Terramac, a biodegradable resin sold by Unitika, which previously had been used to create hard plastics.

"The vast majority of manmade fibres are made from petroleum-based  synthetic polymers that do not degrade in a landfill site or when  buried," said a spokesman.

"As a consequence, the disposal of these products poses a serious environmental problem. We wanted to create an environmentally-conscious alternative," said a spokesman.

The fabric decomposes if buried in soil, according to the company,  which emphasised the material has to be buried first before it starts  decomposing, so there is no risk of its swimwear suddenly melting away  in normal conditions.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.