In Italy, the citrus industry discards one million tonnes of citrus fruit peels annually. While the peels are of course biodegradable, it still costs a lot of money to dispose of them properly. The start-up Orange Fibre, run by Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, has developed a new kind of fabric, which is entirely made of waste citrus fruit peels.

The idea came to Santanocito while working on her thesis in fashion design. Since Sicily, where she is from, is responsible for a major amount of peels, she tried to think of a way to reduce the amount of waste. And thus the idea to make fabric from the discarded peels was born.

The peels are processed with a patented method to extract the cellulose that is spun to form the final yarn. The fabric looks and feels like silk: soft to the touch and a shiny appearance. The biodegradable yarn can be spun with any type of existing yarn.

Aside from looking pretty and feeling nice, the orange yarn has an additional benefit: thanks to nanotechnology, the material still contains essential oils and vitamin C that are present in the citrus fruit peel. The skin absorbs these oils and is nourished by them, making the fabric a wearable body cream. According to Orange Fibre, despite the oils, the fabric does not feel greasy. The oils are guaranteed to last at least twenty washing cycles, but the company is experimenting with recharging methods with special fabric softeners.

The company made three prototype fabrics. One is a lace silk in black and white, the second a cream coloured satin from which clothes such as summer dresses can be made, and lastly, a viscose-like fabric, which is intended to make clothes for daily use like shirts. The citrus peel yarn has won several national and international awards.

Now, orange you glad there is a solution for waste citrus fruit peels?

Thanks to Material District for this article – to find out more visit Orange Fibre’s website.