Like many things we enjoy without much thought, that glass of orange juice in the morning comes with hidden costs.
In that single glass, 40% to 60% of the fruit —rind, pulp, seeds— is wasted. In Italy alone, that accounts for one million tons of citrus juice by-products annually.
As part of a school research project in Milan in 2012, Adriana Santanocito, a fashion design student from Sicily, asked a farfetched question: What if you could turn all that waste into a sustainable fabric and make clothes out of it?
Enrica Arena, a partner in this research project and also from Sicily, saw the potential in her friend’s idea and thought it also could help their home region.
They started working with a professor at the Polytechnical University of Milan, investigating whether the idea was technically feasible. In 2013, they found a way to extract cellulose and make fabric, and they patented the process. In 2014, Orange Fiber was born.
“It was a long process from that point,” says Enrica, the company’s chief executive officer. “It’s not rocket science, but we didn’t know how many trials and how many adjustments we would need to make to really have the right product with an industrial fit.”