Tue, Jul 07, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Singtex transforms waste coffee into eco-friendly fabrics

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local fabric manufacturer Singtex Industrial Co (興采實業) yesterday announced a breakthrough technology, dubbed “S.Cafe,” which weaves waste coffee grounds into interlaced fibers to create textiles that offer fast drying properties, UV protection and odor control, as well as meet Swiss bluesign standards for environmentally friendly textiles.

Bluesign is an independent, world recognized environmental standard for the textile industry that“stands for low-pollutant textile, an environmentally standard for the textile industry, and a careful handling of resources,”as described on its brochure.

Jason Chen (陳國欽), general manager of the technical fabric company, came up with the innovative fabric idea while sipping coffee with colleagues at a Starbucks cafe.

“Three scientists and myself then spent the next four years in research and development [R&D] to extract and transform waste coffee grounds into nano-sized structures to be put into S.Cafe yarn, which we then turned into many styles of knitted and woven fabrics, as well as soft-shell fabrics,” Chen told a media briefing yesterday.

A cup of coffee can be turned into two T-shirts, he said.

The company patented S.Cafe fabric nanotechnology and was the world’s first mill to produce this eco-friendly textile.

Every month, Singtex collects around 300kg to 400kg of waste coffee grounds for free from Starbucks and churns them into fabrics.

Chen said the future is bright for the reuse of waste coffee grounds not just in fabrics, but also in shoe soles, socks, luggage, soaps and a slew of other products.

BRAND NAME

Although French brand name sporting goods company Eider Action Wear was the first to introduce a line of S.Cafe fitness wear, more than 20 major international sports apparel houses are negotiating with Singtex to purchase and utilize this eco-friendly fabric into their active wear as well, Wang Wei-kuo (王維國), general manager of the Taiwanese fitness fashion distributor Uranus International Ltd’s (回鴻國際) told reporters.

Wang said consumers around the globe would start to see more and more active apparels made by S.Cafe fabric on shelves starting this fall and winter.

“In fact, S.Cafe beats Gore-Tex fabrics in terms of UV protection, faster drying time, odor control and better pricing point,” Wang said.

“Many people are not aware of this fact, but Taiwan actually produces 60 percent to 70 percent of the world’s organic textiles. So we’re not simply a technology-driven country in terms of information communication technology products, but we’re also a leader in green fabrics,” Taiwan Textile Federation deputy secretary-general Frank Hsu (許文正) said at the same briefing.

Singtex, a 20-year-old Taiwanese fabric manufacturer, has more than 30 patents and five core technologies.

It supplies products to well-known companies such as Nike Inc, North Face Inc, Patagonia Inc, Adidas AG and Puma AG.

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