Creating revolutionary natural fibers,
while preserving our planet.
The future of fiber
Based on forecasted population growth, the global demand for cotton is expected to double by 2030. However, there is simply not enough water or land to produce sufficient cotton to meet this market growth, leaving a gap of 20 million metric tons or more. Man-made cellulosic fibers (such as viscose) and synthetic fibers can help narrow this gap. But because man-made materials have a significant environmental impact—requiring petroleum, coal, and natural gas resources, and concluding their life cycles in landfills and our precious oceans—they are not an ideal choice. Additionally, studies have shown that consumers overwhelmingly choose to wear natural fibers. According to the 2012 Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey from Cotton Incorporated’s website, 77 percent of consumers state a preference for either all-natural fibers or all-natural blends.
Taken together, diminishing resources for cultivating cotton, synthetic fibers’ dependence on petrochemicals, and clear consumer preference indicate an enormous opportunity for non-cotton natural fibers.
We believe CRAiLAR presents a renewable solution to the global fiber gap. Flax and hemp are hardy, fast-growing rotational crop that requires minimal pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, and irrigation. For example, CRAiLAR Flax requires only 14.1 liters of water to produce one kilogram of finished fiber based on our ongoing research.
Conversely, a single kilo of finished cotton fiber requires between 7,000 and 29,000 liters of water according to a study published by the World Wildlife Federation. Field to Market, a third-party initiative for sustainable agriculture, calculates that it takes 1,917 liters per kilo, while Cotton Incorporated’s two-year life cycle analysisreports 2,120 liters. These studies represent a wide range of findings, but, in every case, the amount of water required is undeniably significant, especially considering that 73 percent of all cotton is produced on irrigated land.
CRAiLAR Flax uses 99 percent less water than cotton, using Field to Market research. Factor in far fewer pesticides and herbicides, and it’s easy to see why we call CRAiLAR Fibers “the friendliest fibers on the planet.”
Changing the world feels great
In the past, hemp and flax’s utility as a fibers were limited by their structures, which allowed them to be woven into cloth but not knitted like cotton. The CRAiLAR process, developed in collaboration with the Canadian National Research Council, unlocks the potential of these plants as a high-performing, eco-friendly natural fiber.
Once the plant is harvested, it is left in the field to “ret,” a natural process whereby moisture loosens the raw fiber from the soft inner core, known as “shive.” Next, the retted straw is decorticated by machine to remove the outer layer and complete the separation of the fiber from the shive. Finally, the raw fiber is treated with the CRAiLAR process to remove pectins that stiffen the fibers, yielding a fiber similar to cotton in softness and durability. Based on ongoing testing, garments made of or blended with CRAiLAR fibers outperform pure cotton.
CRAiLAR Fibers are strong, dry quickly, and shrink less. They wick in a similar manner to synthetics, while offering the breathability and comfort of cotton.
The revolution is only beginning
Right now, we’re focused on integrating CRAiLAR fibers into apparel and textiles, partnering with some of the industry’s biggest brands to make all-natural, sustainably produced goods accessible around the world. But flax and hemp have far-reaching potential beyond fiber: their seeds are used in dietary supplements, oil, and livestock feed, while its 100% biodegradable byproduct can be transformed into fuel pellets, animal bedding, and consumer goods packaging. In other words, fiber is just the beginning of an all-natural, CRAiLAR-fuelled future.
Acclaim for Innovation
CRAiLAR has been honored with recognition from media and regulatory organizations.
Here are recent highlights.
A European not-for-profit organization, MADE-BY committed to making sustainable fashion a common practice and improving environmental and social conditions in the fashion industry.
The ”USDA Certified Biobased Product” label assures the consumer that the USDA and Federal government stand behind the claims of the vendor and that the product or packaging contains biological ingredients.
Founded by NASA, Nike, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Dept. of State, LAUNCH is a global initiative that aims to “to identify and support the innovative work poised to contribute to a sustainable future and accelerate solutions to meet urgent challenges facing our society.” To watch a presentation by CRAiLAR’s Jay Nalbach, head here.
The news organization recently launched a feature called “Sustainable Design Hub,” which focuses on sustainable innovation in design. To read the article on CRAiLAR, head here.
You can help, too. When you tell others about CRAiLAR Fibers, you’re promoting awareness of the value of investing in a naturally sustainable future.
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