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Jay Nalbach

Jay Nalbach's picture
Jay Nalbach
CRAiLAR Flax Fibers

Organization: CRAiLAR

What is Flax Fibers?

CRAiLAR’s processing technology efficiently creates a high quality natural flax fiber which is nearly indistinguishable from cotton.

THE PROBLEM

The cultivation of cotton, the most widely-used natural fiber in the world, imposes a range of environmental costs including the use of pesticides that threaten human and ecological health, dramatic demands for increasingly scarce water, the use of valuable arable land in key agricultural regions, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Flax is a natural fiber that has long shown promise as a base material for sustainable textiles that can be grown with far less water and pesticides than cotton, but has generally not been able to match the experience, performance or cost-effectiveness of cotton. 

THE INNOVATION

CRAiLAR has made advances in chemistry and manufacturing that now make flax competitive on cost and comfort with cotton. Flax can be grown with far less water, pesticides, emissions and land use. As a rain-fed crop rather than an irrigated crop, a kilogram of CRAiLAR, using current flax sources, requires less than 97 percent less of the life-cycle water of a kilogram of cotton. This soft natural fiber, nearly indistinguishable from cotton, does not sacrifice on consumer experience or performance. It will provide all of the environmental benefits without the premium pricing that unfortunately characterizes sustainable products at retail today because of its agronomic flexibility and price.

“CRAiLAR efficiently creates a high-quality natural fiber from flax with its proprietary processing technology. The resulting fiber, CRAiLAR Flax Fiber, is the functional equivalent of cotton in cotton-CRAiLAR blends. The results are clear: compared to cotton, CRAiLAR Flax Fiber is superior in all impact categories considered.” – Jay Nalbach, CMO of CRAiLAR

Stage of Innovation: Commercial market/Deployment

THE VISION

The company aims to achieve scale at the principal manufacturing facility in Pamplico, South Carolina, explore policy and advocacy that would further establish flax and other bast fibers as crops that can be proliferated for apparel and transparently articulate environmental benefits to the consumer and provide a new low impact, low input, rotation crop to rural U.S. communities as a new source of agricultural revenue.

“We are currently working with conventional farms to grow and harvest our crops as a rotation, primarily in winter months when the land would typically be fallow. The agronomic practices require no irrigation, minimal pesticides and herbicides, and deliver an average of 2.5 times the fiber yield per acre over conventional cotton.” – Jay Nalbach, CMO of CRAiLAR

Download the CRAiLAR forum presentation

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