Waste not a feather

“[Some] 50% of all fibres are from petroleum, and we have an oil issue,” says Yiqi Yang, a professor of textile science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who is collaborating with doctoral candidate Narendra Reddy.

Yang and his colleagues think that agricultural waste could offer an alternative source.

Rice straw is made up of the bits and stems left over after a rice harvest and, like cotton and flax, is composed mostly of cellulose. It now accounts for about 526 million tonnes of waste worldwide.

Chicken feathers, which are composed of keratin, like wool, make up about 1.8 billion kilograms in waste each year in the US. Much of this material ends up in landfill.

According to Yang, even processing a small fraction of this agricultural waste and turning it into textiles could have a significant impact on world demand, which totals about 63 million tonnes of fibres a year. Story at abc.au