Friday, July 8, 2022

New fabric from NZ wool, waste China rice straw

New Zealand wool will make up most of a new fabric designed by a small Wellington company as a way of finding a use for waste rice straw in China.

Manufacturing of the fabric in China is expected about this time next year, The Formary managing director Bernadette Casey said.

Using straw samples brought over from China last year, the company has been working with Massey University to produce the fabric for potential use in carpets, and other commercial and home interior uses.

The first prototype contained 20% straw and 80% wool, but refinements have proven a 30/70 ratio as a good mix for an attractive and hard-wearing fabric, Casey said.

Further refinements are being made, largely aimed at reducing the resources needed to manufacture the fabric, particularly water usage because of the premium on supply in China.

Beef + Lamb NZ provided a $157,000 grant, making up 50% of research and development and commercialisation costs of the project. The Formary will receive a royalty from fabric sales.

Licensing of the product to Chinese manufacturers will specify the use of NZ wool.

After being part of a Wellington City Council mayoral delegation to China last year, Casey was approached by Chinese partners to do the work, because of concern how the two hundred million tonnes of waste rice straw would be disposed of after harvest. Burning of the straw affected air quality.

The fabric would be one use as part of the Chinese Government  targeting the reuse of 75% of the waste straw every year, Casey said.

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