Orange Fiber

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Orange Fiber: sustainable and vitamin-enriched textile from citrus products

ItalyItaly
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Orange Fiber is a company creating sustainable yarns and fabrics from citrus byproducts. We transform citrus waste (leftovers from juice extraction, >1.000.000 T in Italy) in a quality product satisfying the need for innovative and performing textiles from cellulose, thus preserving the environment.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could transform all citrus waste in beautiful and high quality textiles able to change the Fashion Industry?

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We address the need for sustainable cellulose fibers alternative to those from wood, which demand is estimated to increase dramatically in the next years. We started from Sicily, our homeland, where every year more than 1.000.000 T of waste is produced from the citrus transformation industry. The disposal, costly for the industry and for the environment, caused the economic failure of some companies and, when mishandled, environmental disasters.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We developed and patented a process to transform citrus byproducts in a yarn and in a textile, and we have given our prototypes to fashion brand who have tested it in order to use it in their collections, with success. Using what remains of citrus fruits after squeezing - thus obtaining cellulose fibers alternative to those from wood - is an alternative to fibers derived from oil and cotton, environmentally unsustainable, eroding natural resources and suffering from price volatility and to fibers from wood, which may lead to deforenstation. Applyng our solution to every citrus juice plan would increase job security in the sector, preserve the environment avoiding waste disposal and offering quality products for a greener fashion industry.

Awards

Finalist - ITMA2015, Changemakers for EXPO 2015 - Telecom Italia, EXPO2015, Make a Cube. Ideas4Change Award, UNECE Geneva. ADI - Industrial Design Association Italy - innovation of the year 2015. Alimenta2Talent - Comune di Milano e PTP.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Man-made cellulosic fabrics, like acetate, viscose, rayon and others are a direct product of trees cut down exclusively to feed dissolving pulp mills. 70,000,000 – 100,000,000 trees are logged annually for fabrics – approximately one-third of which are from ancient and endangered forests. Meanwhile, every year just in Italy >1.000.000 T of citrus byproduct have to be disposed, if we use that instead of wood pulp we will ensure: - reduction of C02 emissions; - Environmental savings compared to common methods of yarn production (cotton: high use of water resources, intensive use of land, high amounts of fertilizers; petroleum: nonrenewable fossil fuel with high environmental impact); - Creation of a new market for the citrus sector.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have tested the process converting and abandoned production line in a citrus transformation plant and we have produced textile prototypes. We are creating a a self-sustaining plant in order to fully reuse the byproduct and to demonstrate the project replication in other plants. We have already created a supply chain network with partner companies in order to bring our fabric on the market and that will allow us to achieve our growth objectives. With the start of our production by April 2015 we will develop a collection of fabrics with 4 developments of textile proposals for commercial purposes. From 2016 we will start analyzing our product lifecycle in order to certificate our impact in terms of environmental savings, job creation and other social impact. As for product impact, we want to go through C2C certification process, oekotex, bluesign to continuosly improve our process.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

By 2019 we will fully absorb the leftovers production of our host citrus transformation plant with a production that values 5% of our initial TAM, consisting in 7.000.000 meters of sustainable fabric procurement committed by 50 top brands for Greenpeace Detox Campaing. While proving the market viability of our textile we will complete the process of R&D, optimize the costs of production and start replicating the plant. Italy produces just 4% of world citrus juice, so that the opportunity to replicate the process abroad are endless and will increase our social and environmental impact.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our first plant is in Sicily to enjoy savings in product logistic and in line with our idea of establishing the brand as a niche product at the beginning. This will allow us to test market response and reach the break even by year 2 and grow as stated in full impact potential. We started a due diligence process for our product with a number of top fashion brand to test our textile for their collections and enter the market by 2016.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are creating a B2B2C product addressing the need of fashion brands to use a high quality sustainable and innovative textile for their collection and the need of consumer to have access to high quality sustainable clothing, with an adding value constituted by the vitamin C to be released on the skin. Actually 80% of cellulosic textile production is hold by 10 companies all around the world. The biggest European player in this market is Lenzing. As for cellulosic textiles from alternatives sources, the main players are Piñatex, Cocona, Seacell, Silk Milk, QMilk.
Team

Founding Story

Our adventure started at the end of 2011 in Milan, when we were finishing our studies and sharing a flat. Adriana wanted to become a fashion designer with an innovative and sustainable product and I wanted get a job in line with my idea of sustainable development and social entrepreneurship. We had different background but we shared the dream of changing the world starting from our country – Italy – and region – Sicily - using our skills and passion. And all of a sudden Orange Fiber idea came to Adriana’s mind while she was writing her thesis on sustainable materials for fashion: what if she could use citrus products to create an innovative textile?

Team

Orange Fiber is a company established in February 2014 as innovative Srl (short for ltd in italian) based in Catania, Sicily, with an operational headquarter in Rovereto, Trentino. The company is composed by 5 members: Adriana Santanocito, CEO, founding partner and President of the board, https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianasantanocito; Enrica Arena, CMO, founding partner and member of the board, http://www.linkedin.com/in/enricaarena; Francesco Virlinzi, partner and board member, https://www.linkedin.com/pub/francesco-virlinzi/78/87b/341; Antonio Perdichizzi, partner, https://www.linkedin.com/in/antonioperdichizzi; Corrado Blandini, partner, https://www.linkedin.com/in/corradoblandini/it. Three collaborators complete the team: Roberto Merighi, Industrial Chemist, Moreno Petrulli, textile process Engineer, Stefano Milani, financial and management advisor.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Brand Representative, Designer, Researcher, Supplier - contractor, Technologist.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Policymakers, Researchers, Supplier - contractor, Women.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Media, Technology.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?

yes

If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?

By co-designing the product with selected brands while working on R&D and replication to lower the price and become accessible.

Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

We are costantly raising awareness about sustainable fashion, raw materials supply, women empowerment, entrepreneurship by media

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We have partnered with connect for climate initiative for raising awareness and participating to sust fashion conferences

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Comments

Love it! It will be interesting to see what takeup by main brands in Spring 2016. Do you think you can exploit the Vitamin C benefit in a médical context? eg bedlinen in général hospital and in specialist burns or cosmetic surgery clinics?

Actually we prefer to stay in natural wellness context, as for the medical one we can think about establishing partnership with experts in the future, thank you for the idea!

Sonia Agarwal's picture

Hello! Very Interesting. Really enjoyed video.  I would like to learn more about the collection/ design/ price point. What is the manufacturing set up? How do you sell the collection currently? Most importantly What is the life of a clothing made with orange fiber? 

We have a plant in Sicily, within a citrus juice producer plant, and we have production partners to produce the thread and the textile, that we co-design with partner brands. We will sell the collection B2B, we plan to start entering the market with an exclusive launch with a fashion brand and opening the market to others by 2017. We will test clothing lifecycle after the first products will be ready, our textile can be washed as normal textiles and it is biodegradable.