The project was initiated to bring traceability to nettle fiber grown naturally in the Himalayas. The collaboration is set to be launched at the Future Fabric Expo in London on June 28, where brands and designers will witness the potential of traced nettle fibers in yarns, fabrics and finished products.
Nettle Circle provides a sustainable regenerative natural fiber that is versatile, high performance, circular and now traceable with Haelixa marking technology from bark to end consumer product. The next generation of natural fibers grows wildly and can be cultivated with a marginal ecological footprint, it said.
“We are excited to support Nettle Circle in their efforts to bring traceability into nettle value chains and promote the use of such fibers, whose production has a low environmental impact,” Michela Puddu, CEO and co-founder at Haelixa, said. “By providing forensic evidence of fiber origin and identity, we are helping to establish transparent supply chains and credible sustainable alternatives, which is even more relevant for emerging options such as nettle, where there are no formal certification routes.”
In Summer 2021 the first batches were marked with a unique Haelixa DNA marker made specifically for Nettle Circle to confirm the authenticity of the Himalayan origins of the wildly growing nettle plant. Nettle bark is extracted from the nettle plant to produce fibers, yarns and eventually textiles.
To ensure traceability at the source, the nettle barks are marked on-site with the DNA marker formulation, which is GOTS and OekoTex Standard 100 compliant. The robustness of Haelixa DNA markers has proven to withstand raw material transformation into fiber and all stages of industrial processing.
The markers were verified and detected in the produced yarn with a quick PCR forensic test. By verifying the presence of this DNA marker in a garment, it can prove that the garment is made of nettle, which has been responsibly sourced in the Himalayas by the Nettle Circle.
Nettle offers an important livelihood for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Himalayas. Promoting the use of this environmentally friendly material brings visibility to the communities in the Himalayan villages, while DNA marking traceability technology meets the fundamental demands of the market and provides a clear competitive advantage to brands.
“Since nettle fiber is new to the textile market, we wanted to ensure from the beginning that Nettle Circle fibers were uniquely identifiable,” Cornelia Bamert, CEO and founder at Nettle Circle, said. “Using Haelixa’s unique technology allows Nettle Circle to guarantee full traceability and transparency in the entirety of the nettle fiber supply chain. Thus, supporting our customer’s sustainability commitments. Together with Haelixa, our next steps are to scale-up nettle production as the next generation of natural fibers.”
The fiber from nettle plants can be cultivated globally and is regenerative. The entire plant is used, producing not only fibers but using its by-products for non-woven, chipboards, animal feed, bio-fertilizer and natural medicine.