The forest industry is one of Finland's largest, but in an increasingly digitized world, the factories that made paper are not needed to the same extent. The innovation company Spinnova, based in Jyväskylä, Finland, aims to develop nature-friendly alternatives to traditional textile fibers. They came up with the idea of converting old paper mills into textile fiber producers.
The new technology was first tested with recycled newsprint, where it was seen to actually create textile fibers. The next experiment was done with old Wrangler jeans and ended up with the same result: textile fiber. Several years of development later, the company calls its method Spinnova technology, which can now create textiles that are both comfortable and environmentally friendly.
After Spinnova's manufacturing process, only water vapor remains as a byproduct. It can then be reused in production. In addition, significantly less water is required during production than in cotton production, and no pesticides either, as the manufacturing process is mechanical rather than chemical.
Most people think of the clothing industry in connection with these new technologies, but textiles are much more than clothes – they can also become hygiene products, home textiles, or filters. The innovation got its start in 2009 when a researcher at VTT (Technical Research Center of Finland) started experimenting with the possibilities of wood fibers and is now soon ready to become commercial. The company has developed a pilot factory with the ambition to produce these new textile fibers on an industrial scale.