How Unused Milk is Becoming a Source of Sustainable Clothing Materials

128 million tons of dairy products are dumped every year globally, but Terro developed a way to create fabric from unused milk, generating five shirts from one glass of milk. The process takes two months and involves converting milk proteins into fibers.

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Reducing waste, recycling resources and promoting conservation are three of the major pillars of any sustainable business model. In recent years, environmentally-conscious companies have found innovative ways of recycling waste and creating new products. 

Mi Terro, a startup based in Los Angeles, aims to draw attention to the amount of waste produced in the dairy industry by creating sustainable fabrics from unused milk. The company sources excess milk from a dairy farm in China before processing it and turning milk into fibers capable of being used in durable, lightweight clothing. 

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The entire milk-to-clothing process takes about two months to complete with one glass of milk corresponding to five shirts . Mi Terro collects milk from its dairy farm partner, skims it to remove fats before dewatering it to become powdered milk. It is then dissolved and purified to remove and substances that are not casein - the proteins that make up a large proportion of milk. Once the casein is isolated, it is immersed in an alkali solution and passed through a spinneret to solidify the proteins into fibers. After this, it is removed from the alkali solution and the fibers are stretched, spun into yarn and ready to be used in the manufacturing of clothing.

Forbes has the full story on this innovative solution to dairy waste.