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Formary to launch blend of rice straw & wool upholstery
07
Dec '13
A new wool and rice straw blended upholstery fabric, which has been developed by a Wellington company, goes into commercial production next year with the potential to create significant demand for New Zealand crossbred wool, while helping solve a massive air pollution problem in China.

The Formary is a Wellington textile design and development company that creates solely sustainable interior textiles. It already has a track record with its WoJo upholstery fabrics brand created from recycled jute fibre from coffee sacks blended with New Zealand wool.

But the wool-rice straw blended textile appears to have a much bigger future. One of The Formary’s co-founders Bernadette Casey said the production runs out of China are projected to be very significant.

Next month she will visit the top 10 North American furniture manufacturers and distributors to show their prototype samples and start building interest and demand. Early in the New Year they will spend up to three months working with their Chinese manufacturing partners in Zhejiang to fine tune the production process and commercialise the product.

After that they will be confirming orders in the United States and Europe with the commercial production runs expected to start around May or June.

Ms Casey said a Federal tax rebate is available for US companies that use energy efficient certified sustainable products in their refurbishments or new builds (LEED certification) and one European retailer has expressed interest in taking The Formary’s entire initial production, even before commercial fabric samples are available.

The new textile called Mibu, will be woven in China under a recently signed memorandum of understanding between The Formary and its manufacturing partner Zhejiang Furun Textile Company.

The 70 percent wool-30 percent rice straw woven fabric has the potential to use all of the wool New Zealand can grow in the mid 26 to 30 micron range, while at the same time helping reduce China’s massive air pollution problem caused by burning waste straw after the rice harvest.

“We can scale up the production runs very quickly and if early indication of demand is correct we will have to source 26 to 30 micron wool globally to fill our orders.

“Each year China disposes of 200 million tonnes of rice straw with the majority of it being burnt. It’s quite common for the smoke and ash pollution to get so bad they have to close their airports, so the Chinese see this as a solution to a problem as much as a manufacturing opportunity,” Ms Casey said.

The Formary was started four years ago by Ms Casey, a textile and design specialist based in Wellington, and Gisborne designer Sally Shanks with the development of WoJo.

The product was launched in London and caught the eye of the Prince Charles, who is leading a global Campaign for Wool and he awarded the directors his Sustainable Development Award, while Kevin McCloud from the British television show Grand Designs gave WoJo a Green Hero Award as one of the 10 best Eco products on the market.

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