Waste turned fabric
Upholstery fabric that blends New Zealand wool with Chinese riceproduction waste product will be sold in the United States next year.
The fabric has been developed in Wellington by The Formary, which specialises in transforming postindustrial waste into innovative products. The fabric is made from 70 per cent New Zealand wool and 30 per cent rice straw.
During a business delegation visit to China last year, led by Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, connections were made with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, which wanted new ways to recycle the millions of tonnes of rice straw being burnt every harvest, creating pollution and visibility problems.
The Formary, which previously made a similar product by recycling jute coffee sacks with wool for Starbucks’ chair coverings, is working with a partner in Wellington’s Chinese sister city, Tianjin, which is supplying the rice straw.
"We presented the prototype to our Chinese partner Grand Peak in June and they wanted us to roll it out at the [October 2012] harvest but that was too soon. We’re looking at September or October 2013," The Formary director Bernadette Casey said. "A distributor in the States is requesting exclusivity of the fabric without even seeing it but that will also be on the back of our project with Starbucks."
The fabric was no more expensive to produce than standard wool- blend upholstery materials.