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“Transforming industrial and agricultural waste into beautiful fabrics” is the mantra of New Zealand company The Formary. Back in 2010, they made global headlines when they collaborated with Starbucks and developed WoJo®, an award-winning fabric combining New Zealand wool with coffee sack waste fibre. 
On May 1st they launched their latest innovation, Mibu yarn, on the biggest stage on the planet: the World Exposition 2015 in Milan. Over the following months, as many as 20 million visitors are expected to visit the Expo. 
“The overall theme of the Expo is Feeding the Planet/Energy For Life. Our Mibu yarn has been selected by the organisers for an exhibition called Textifood: Where Food and Textiles Intersect,” explains The Formary co-founder and Creative Director, Bernadette Casey.
“In China alone, over 200 million tonnes of rice straw is burnt after harvest each year, contributing to their air pollution problem. We spotted a potentially game-changing opportunity to re-use this unwanted food by-product, help reduce carbon emissions, and create a sustainable – and desirable – new product. So we’ve worked to develop the world’s first ever textile made from a blend of wool and rice straw.”
A luxurious and resilient upholstery fabric, Mibu (which means “rice cloth” in Mandarin) will initially be woven in Italy, where Casey is now based to oversee production. 
There’s already strong interest in Mibu from distributors in Europe, the US and Asia. Their clients – architects, designers, specifiers, furniture makers and retailers – are driving market demand for sustainably produced fabrics, particularly for green building and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design constructions and interiors. 
“We truly believe that this is the future of textiles,” says Casey. “As it becomes obvious that there is a limit to the world’s resources, we need to move away from the consume-and-dispose model. We can do that by creating elegant solutions like Mibu.” 
The Formary’s Mibu exhibition is on display at Pavillon France/Lille-Europe, Expo 2015, Milan, from May 1st to July 14th.
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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