Advertisement
Advertisement
WORDS
REPORTING
TAG
BROWSING
SHARE
Facebook
WhatsApp
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Twitter

Trino project – Super yarns, the mixture between eucalyptus tree and merino wool

Relying on natural materials from certified sources to create fiber blend with enhanced properties, eucalyptus from FSC-certified farms and merino ZQ-certified

Eucalyptus sourcing and plantations

Eucalyptus plantations are not owned by Allbirds, but through an agreement with Lenzing, resources are recovered from FSC-certified South African farms. FSC Forest Stewardship Council certification ensures ethical management of forests and social and economic environments. In this way it is possible to check that there is no elimination of other forms of flora due to excessive land occupation of eucalyptus plantations in order to increase tissue production. This control body also prevents the exploitation of cheap labor. Lenzing primarily uses wood generated by thinned timber, a practice applied in sustainable forestry, can be read on their website. In this way, wood that cannot be used for high-quality products can be used in the production of organic fibers. The choice of eucalyptus material is also based on the low environmental impact that the cultivation has since the trees require a minimum amount of water available through rainfall, avoiding the use of irrigation systems. Their growth is rapid, and they do not need fertilizers. The crops store significant amounts of carbon dioxide through their trunks, bark and leaves, explains Kajimura, Sustainability Lead at Allbirds. Given the dispersion of microplastics and increasing pollution due to the fashion industry, some brands have committed to researching fossil fuel-free materials. Allbirds brand has been researching new methods internally since its inception using ancient materials not yet used in the fashion industry, from those experimented with trees to the creation of wool shoes. The properties of the latter were found to be satisfactory considering breathability, ability to regulate temperature, and comfort without skin irritation. An alternative that could be used during warmer times of the year was needed, a cooler fabric to compensate for the use of merino. The first use of eucalyptus was then implemented in the creation of Allbirds’ shoe collection. The use of eucalyptus was dictated by the company’s experience in processing wood-derived fibers and the possibility of being able to obtain a certified material produced in socially backward environments favoring the livelihood of the community and integration into an international processing system. 

Trino® textile development 

The process of creating the fiber starts with the creation of wood chips from eucalyptus plantations, these are then ground to obtain a pulp. The third step is to use a solution that is sprinkled on the pulp, the latter is then extracted. The cellulose is regenerated through the creation of a yarn; by aligning the fibers obtained, the final fabric is made up. One of the benefits in developing the fiber is produced by the non-toxic and closed-loop process where 99% of the water implied in the production is recycled and reused, states Kajimura and continues explaining that compared to materials normally implied in the production of fibers as cotton, it uses 95% less water and diminishes the brand’s carbon footprint in half. Trino®, Allbirds’ patented material, combines two natural materials, the first is the eucalyptus fiber, already introduced, the second is merino wool, the hallmark under which the brand was born. The latter material is ZQ-certified, whose production is distinguished by its regenerative approach. This certification ensures that the wool is produced according to standards of animal husbandry, soil management and fauna wellbeing. Through working closely with its supply chain, Allbirds ensures that the product is the combination of the two materials and possesses the properties of both, resulting in a soft, breathable fabric that helps wick moisture away from the body. Kajimura reiterates that in order to increase its capabilities, it was decided to create this material defined as super yarn. To compose the final products, it is not clear if only the use of this fiber is made, it is necessary to rely on other types of textile certifications to define its sustainability. As it can be read on Allbirds website «to help increase durability, we use recycled synthetics to bolster natural material content where we need to and we are innovating around new technologies to increase the performance and longevity of natural materials». For the production of some parts of the products, materials such as recycled plastic from bottles are used to make the laces, castor oil is part of the natural substances in the insoles of the shoes, recycled nylon is added to increase the durability of the yarn. As for the production costs of the material, due to internal policies the brand does not disclose the information.

All birds, merino wool

Trino®, material evolution and biodegradation

The Trino® material already turns out to be an evolution from two materials commonly used by the brand, which are eucalyptus tree and merino wool. TrinoXO™ is a further evolution of this, using a fiber created from pure chitosan, derived from the shells of discarded snow crabs, scraps of shells from the food industry, the result of using this is the reduction of odor implemented with a natural material. According to the Allbirds website, the brand is the first to use the second most abundant biopolymer on earth to create a fabric for everyday wear. This allows to preserve the integrity of the garment as it will need less washing and will be consumed less. While Trino® material could probably be biodegradable considering its material component, there is no brand communication as it has not actually been tested. Regarding the issue of biodegradability as well as circularity, Kajimura explains that the topic is complex and although there are many initiatives and solutions there are no specific guidelines in the fashion industry. She says «many of the existing options are carbon intensive or require large-scale infrastructure investments that may have other implications. Any solution also needs to reflect realistic human behavior to be as successful and sustainable as possible, for example, if a material requires very specific conditions for biodegradation and a consumer is not likely to be able to provide those conditions, this should be considered». For this reason, the brand focuses more on the durability of different products, looking for models of economic circularity that allow to put back on the market products that have been used for a long time.

Lampoon reporting: enhancing the customer’s fabric experience

By offering them a mix of different natural materials that can combine their characteristics and specifics is an idea that will continue to be developed in the future, focusing on the needs of human beings over clothing. A concept that has been overlooked in favor of aesthetics and the use of less fine materials such as the extensive use of plastic derivatives. It can be complicated to structure garments or shoe collections through the sole use of natural materials. Allbirds tries to replace petroleum-based synthetic materials with natural alternatives whenever possible, so the use of plastic-derived materials is based on recycling. Since it is still plastic, one of the goals to be developed by the brand before 2025 is to have seventy-five percent sustainably sourced natural and recycled materials. As it would be desirable to test the biodegradability of the finished product, Trino® raw form consists of natural elements, so in theory it can biodegrade under precise circumstances. The inventive process in natural materials is not easy and one of the challenges, as Kajimura explains, is to make the supply chain familiar with natural materials because in the fashion industry they have become so used to working with synthetics and managing their processes and equipment. They need to understand the different way natural fibers behave, so in the development process the brand has a direct confrontation with suppliers testing and improving procedures to handle those. The machines used in production are the same, but they operate differently, with also a different heat setting required. What the market lacks, according to Kajimura, is the ability and desire to invest in research into natural, one hundred percent biobased materials that can still meet customers’ needs, such as non-animal skins. One of the other pillars of these research projects is the open sourcing and sharing of materials in order to get a more efficient production and a common need capable of bringing down the manufacturing prices and the final cost for the customers.

Allbirds

Tim Brown founded Allbirds questioning the scarce use of a material as sustainable as it is performing as merino wool, absent in footwear production. Together with Joey Zwillinger, an engineer and renewables expert, they created a fabric specifically for these products and continue to experiment with the use of natural materials to this day.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

SHARE
Facebook
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email
WhatsApp
Twitter