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Flax For Victory? Super Seed Bumps Hemp

Naturally Advanced Technologies wants the sustainable fashion industry to get loaded on flax.

Flax, the uber-fiber-packed grain, is now being touted by Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) as their super sustainable, commercially-viable alternative to cotton. NAT promises a cost-effective, soft fiber that will revolutionize the sustainability industry and the price points for sustainable fashion designs. The patented process called CRAiLAR was previously used on hemp, but its primary benefits are now being seen with flax. NAT bathes the flax in an enzyme that makes the fiber soft, yet keeps it strong and durable.

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Flax is readily available in the United States (unlike hemp, which has to be imported). Portions of the seed  often thrown out in food processing can now be salvaged and used, according to NAT. What’s more, they’ve managed to make the fiber output soft, unlike the typically-stiff textures of hemp.

NAT says it is currently in talks with large consumer brands. “Our ability to commercialize flax fibers in partnership with brands who have such broad consumer bases means, for the first time, sustainability can be affordable to everyone,” says NAT CEO Ken Barker. “With cotton prices currently at 90 to 93 cents per pound, flax is a cost-effective raw material for fiber production. The productivity of our process using flax is twice as efficient as it is with hemp, yielding nearly twice as much usable fiber.” Get ready for the flax revolution.

[Images courtesy Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.

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