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Spinnova makes textile fibres from pulp: “We are the only company in the world to manufacture textile fibre without harmful chemicals”

Textile fibre made from pulp and leather waste solves environmental problems in the textile industry. According to CEO Janne Poranen, clothing giants such as H&M and Adidas have expressed an interest in the fibre produced by Spinnova.

Image: Petteri Tuukkanen, Berry Creative

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“The textile industry is one of the world’s biggest contributors to negative environmental impacts. For example, enormous amounts of water are used in cotton cultivation. In addition, industrial chemicals pollute the soil and water systems.

The idea for a cellulose-based textile fibre emerged back when I was working together with Juha Salmela, the co-founder of Spinnova, at VTT. We established our own company in 2015.

We are the only company in the world that can produce textile fibre without a chemical dissolution process or harmful chemicals. We ship in surplus material, grind it mechanically into microfibre and manufacture textile fibre from the microfibre and water.

We focus on two raw materials: paper pulp and waste leather. In manufacturing our cellulose-based textile, we have partnered with Suzano, a Brazilian enterprise that is one of the world’s leading pulp companies. We use waste generated from leather production to manufacture textile fibres in collaboration with the Danish footwear company Ecco.

We have also tested other source materials. We can produce textile fibre from agricultural waste such as wheat and barley straw. We can also make new fibre from recycled textiles, such as used cotton garments. We aim to apply these processes in the future.

When we started out around seven years ago, there was not as much talk about sustainability in the textile industry as there is now. No one in Finland had made efforts to develop cellulose-based textiles. By contrast, sustainable materials are now at the forefront of every discussion. Textile manufacturers have great enthusiasm for renewal and looking for more environmentally friendly materials.

Our textile fibre is a topic of international interest and we have several brand partnerships. Our fibre can be used to manufacture yarn, thread and fabrics for a variety of applications. We can modify the fibre to create desired properties in the finished fabric. We collaborate with companies such as H&M, Adidas and Icebreaker. Bergans, a Norwegian outdoor clothing brand, is already selling clothing made from our fibre.

We have a pilot factory and are currently in the process of setting up a textile fibre factory in Jyväskylä. The factory will enable us to soon produce large quantities of the textile fibre for commercial purposes. Our long-term goal is to produce one million tonnes of cellulose-based fibre per year, which we can sell to substitute cotton in textile production. One million tonnes a year would be a significant production volume, even from a global perspective. The key to our success is to attract world-class partners to help us and collaborate closely with us.”

 

 

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