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Ternua Turns Waste Wool into High-Quality Natural Outerwear Insulation

Spanish outdoor-apparel brand Ternua has launched an initiative to create thermal insulation for outerwear using waste wool from local sheep.

More than 800,000 latxa sheep currently roam the wilds of Basque Country as “symbols of the region and guardians of the landscape,” according to the Gipuzkoa-based firm. The sheep are raised for their milk, which is turned into Idiazábal and Roncal cheeses. But their long and coarse wool has no commercial appeal, so it’s typically burned after their biannual shearing.

Each sheep yields more than 4 pounds of wool, according to Ternua, which adds up to roughly 2,000 metric tons across all of Basque Country. “It is an environmental problem that costs shepherds money,” Edu Uribesalgo, innovation and sustainability director for Ternua, said in a video.

Through its Latxa Artile project, Ternua seeks to bring together the wool of latxa sheep with the “latest technology in recycled materials” to wash, card and roll up the wool into semi-felted sheets for easy cutting.

For Fall/Winter 2020, the brand is debuting the Artile Jkt, a lightweight jacket that it says provides excellent insulation, warmth, wind protection and water repellency even in winter.

The jacket’s inner filling, known as Artileshell, is made of nearly a pound of pure latxa wool, which Ternua hails as not only “completely natural, sustainable and biodegradable” but also adept at managing humidity, maintaining body temperature, repelling moisture and staving off odor-causing bacteria.

Sandwiching the wool are outer and inner fabrics made from Bluesign-certified polyester derived from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The jacket has also been imbued with a breathable but windproof membrane (made from corn sugar biomass) and a water-repellent treatment free of polyfluorinated compounds.

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Put together, the Artile Jkt is a “product as simple and pure as it is sophisticated and high tech,” Ternua said. The jacket will be in stores this October with a recommended retail price of 229.95 euros ($252.60).

The project is also a win for private and public stakeholder collaboration, uniting the expertise of Ternua with that of the Muturbeltz association, the village of Lamariako Azpikoa in Antzuola, wool processor Iletegia and the Provincial Government of Gipuzkoa’s department of environment.

Through the project, “high-performance clothing takes on a new dimension,” José Ignacio Asensio, deputy at Gipuzkoa Provincial Council Department of the Environment and Hydraulic Works, said in the video. “A dimension of shared responsibility, a dimension of driving circularity [and] a dimension of driving the local economy, through which we can take on the most demanding of projects.”