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Toward sustainable fashion: nettle and blueberry garments to promote sustainable development of mountain areas and to boost young talents

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ORTIKA (Toward sustainable fashion: nettle and blueberry garments to promote sustainable development of mountain areas and to boost young talents)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2018-12-01 al 2019-05-31

Ortika project has the overall objectives of: A process innovation and B organizational innovation. Process innovation derived from the wish of bringing together knowledge and technological innovation to provide consumers with clothes made up from natural yarns, starting from the nettle. It consisted in the introduction of a new machine which allows to perform the retting steps in less time, with lower consumption and no chemical treatment; moreover, it allows to recycle the production waste. On the other hand, the organizational innovation laid on the reformulation of the modern company as "Human centered enterprise" which aims at bringing talent and personal development at the business mode center. The main problem is that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet: 20% of water pollution globally is caused by textile industry and ¼ of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles and it is also highly resource-intensive. Another serious issue is the exploitation of labor (3% of the cost of a garment is for labor) but the persisting problem of sustainable fashion is the search for raw materials with low environmental impact. According to “Current global”, the least sustainable part of the production chain in the fashion industry is that of the raw material, one of the most complex, fragmented and difficult to trace areas. In contrast, nowadays, consumers are increasingly demanding for environmental and social responsibility, transparency, well-being and uniqueness. Only by reconstructing the entire value chain it will be possible to offer market products that are truly eco-sustainable and 100% natural; to be able to demonstrate and guarantee the origin of the raw material, as well as its transformation with low environmental impact and its realization without using exploitation of work. From society perspective, Ortika intended promote the return of high skilled and educated people to isolated areas such as the Emilia Romagna Apennines by giving value to their skills and ideas. Ortika is therefore a project where responsibility, social and environmental protection are essential values and absolutely consistent with what the market is requiring today. The entire value chain can be developed and managed exclusively through a new organizational approach: the human-centered company, a vision based on the centrality of the human being, and which considers the company as a living organism.
Since the beginning of the project Ortika worked on the development of the whole field innovation. The first step was to work on the creation of a unique hybrid of nettle, able to respond to the performances required. Ortika set up officially as cooperative society on the 28 of May, as predictable in the phase 1.
It started also a research program with Tintoria Alvit, on the 15 of February, for the coloring process of the fabric. The aim of Ortika was to use only natural additives for the color, especially for the green one, using the waste material of the yard creation process.
Ortika worked also to the commercialization part of the project, establishing various collaborations with influencers and showrooms besides, developing an intern part of the company only dedicated to this business area that will be responsible for the social media management. The corporation will also operate in the market of fashion, nettle’s cultivation, natural healthy, cosmetic and food using of the nettle leaves and the waste material. In the period of time from February to May, Ortika has operated to find information on the best type of nettle for the clothing production; therefore, they contacted and collaborated with the Unibo, CNR of Bologna (which furnished them the clone 13), University of Florence and the Agricultuaral School of Roville in France( there they have identified a new variety of wild nettle useful for the further steps). In this lapse of time The enterprise has also had a meeting with the Confagricoltori of Castelfranco and made two orientation days for the farmers interested in becoming their partners.
At the current step Ortika is developing a “Process and product innovation" which encompasses almost all the fundamental stages of the production chain. Regarding the "nettle cultivation model" ORTIKA aims to re-establish the tradition of nettle harvest for textile purposes on a medium wide scale, reducing environmental footprint, promote sustainability in the textile industry and encourage biodiversity on the territory. The nettle cultivation model will be implemented by 2020, with the first crop expected in July and, starting from September 2020 the model will also be replicable. The process innovation foresees a cultivation cycle ranging from a min. of 5 to a max. of 7 years where the 1st year is dedicated to planting and the following ones are dedicated to harvest and re-growth. Today Ortika has already 35 hectares available in the Modena Apennines and they expect to reach 100 hectares by 2022. Furthermore, ORTIKA wants to create a clone variety (a hybrid) with a higher fiber yield by interbreeding nettle varieties already present on the Apennines territory with the German clone 13, the Roville (France) and local wild nettle, thus creating a brand-new clone native variety with a fiber yield of 20-23%. The enterprise will employ a new machine capable of performing the retting step in less time and with lower consumption and of extracting fiber without using chemical treatments. This machine, developed by Packtin S.r.l. and ORTIKA, is able to complete the retting step using less water, less solvents and in a shortened time. The machine avoids the step in the field and thanks to it, it is possible to get the fiber ready to be spun in less than two hours.
Ortika, conscious of the urgency to reduce the usage of harmful substances, aims at using natural color and fixing agents. The extraction of green color from nettle leaves and the natural fixing colors system are to be implemented, but go in this direction. In this way, ORTIKA collection will be the first to be100% natural. Furthermore, creating an HCE which will emphasize collaboration and sharing of talents. For these purposes, a cooperative company has been created and a CV of talent structure has been drawn.
Concluding, the expected results of the project are: 1 the complete realization of the mentioned cultivation model and 2 the full optimization of the ORTIKA- PACKTIN machine for the fiber extraction process 3 the implementation of a nettle hybrid with a fiber yield of 20-23% and lastly, 4 the implementation of a natural fixative method.