For Finland's Centenary Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace on 6th December 2017, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen will wear an evening dress designed by Anna Ruohonen, which will be the first one made by using renewable fibre technology created by VTT. The evening bag, which is mainly made of bio-based plastics, was designed by Anneli Auranen and Heta Kupsala.
Discarded cotton textiles were used as the raw material for the knitted fabric. VTT used its own cellulose carbamate technology (CCA) to dissolve the textiles in an environmentally friendly manner. It then produced new fibre from the solution. Pure Waste turned the fibres into yarn and made the fabric.
VTT's method involves dissolving worn and discarded cotton and using it as a raw material for new fibre. The knitted fabric was made in VTT's Bioruukki piloting facility in Espoo last summer. The first product models have shown that recycled fibre can be turned into fabric which is smooth with a subdued matt finish and drapes nicely.
"The outfit combines outstanding Finnish innovation with Anna Ruohonen's top design, representing the socially responsible use of textiles. I am delighted to be representing both on the centenary of Finland's independence. I hope that, in a hundred years' time, women are celebrating in outfits made of sustainable, recycled fibre," comments MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.
"Because ethics and ecology are key values in my work, it has been great to work as a fashion designer in this unique project. Textile waste is a major global problem, for which we need new kinds of solutions. This recycled fibre technology is a wonderful example of the innovative solutions needed by the world and the textile industry in particular," says fashion designer Anna Ruohonen, winner of the Kaj Franck Design Award in 2017.
Ruohonen points out that the recycled material is very pleasant to the touch, has good machining properties and hangs well. "It feels very similar to newly used natural fibres. We have taken a major step towards the future in this project and have been able to produce a new garment from fully recycled textile waste," says Ruohonen.
Accessories containing bio-based plastics
An evening bag, mainly made of bio-based plastics developed by VTT, features as one of the evening dress's accessories. The accessory was designed by Anneli Auranen and Heta Kupsala who won VTT's hackathon design contest in the autumn. The surface of the evening bag is made of moulded bioplastics reinforced with carbon black. The raw material in the handle is a thermoformable cellulose, reinforced with carbon black and Suominen Oy's viscose-based Biolace®.
Designed by Michal Fanta, the snowflake earrings are made of silver bioplastic; they are tinted with a nanocellulose paint, coloured with autumn-leave pigments, developed by VTT.
Renewable fibre made without carbon disulphide
VTT's fibre preparation method, which is based on the dissolution of cellulose carbamate, is much kinder to the environment than the viscose process, in which carbon disulphide is needed to dissolve the cellulose. In addition, polyester residues are removed from the cotton material using methods familiar from the pulp industry.
The CCA cotton fibre used for the evening dress was produced in VTT's Bioruukki piloting centre, with funding from the EU's regional development fund and Tekes, in cooperation with the TEKI and Tekide projects.
According to calculations performed during the technology commercialisation project, the carbon footprint of recycled fibre produced using CCA technology is around a third smaller than for cotton and in the same category as the most environmentally friendly viscose. The water footprint of the recycled fibre is around 2% of that of virgin cotton and 10% of viscose.
Yarns made of recycled fibres (Photo: Pure Waste Oy):
Knitting of yarns made of recycled fibres (Photo: Pure Waste Oy):