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Clothes Made From Cow Dung? This Start-Up Surprises Everyone With their Innovation

Cow Dung could be a future fabric choice according to one Dutch startup, which is extracting cellulose from cowpats to make “manure couture”. Jalila Essaïdi believes that a non-vegan future will involve recycling cow manure into cellulose fibre, bioplastics, chemical concentrates and pure water – and being less squeamish about it, too.

“Like a lasagne of manure, you need to make something out of it,” she says. “We see manure as a waste material, something disgusting and smelly. But oil [used to make fibre] isn’t clean and beautiful at the beginning. You really have to show people the hidden beauty if you transform this cellulose.”

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Essaïdi, who is working with 15 farmers in Eindhoven to create an industrial-scale manure refinery this year, has already won awards for her innovation including $200,000 from the Chivas Venture and an H&M Foundation Global Change award.

“The process is chemical and mechanical,” she explains, having run trials to create a fashion show in 2016. “When you collect manure, it’s a combination of urine and cow poop, 80% water. We separate the dry and wet fraction. The wet fraction is fermented and we [extract] solvents to transform the cellulose, which is nothing other than the grass and corn the cows eat.

The Dutch government’s environmental agency estimates 30%-40% of the country’s 76bn annual kilos of manure enters a black market of illegal waste, secretly traded or spread on the land at night to avoid fines for overproduction.


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