A team of developers has created a new wool that reduces waste by using leftover animal materials.

gelatin glove close-up 2
Wendelin J. Stark and Philipp R. Stoessel/ETH Zürich

A team of developers in Switzerland has created a new kind of wool that reduces slaughterhouse waste by using leftover animal materials from meat manufacturers.

The team, based in the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zürich, has spent the last four years crafting a new material they hope will make a dent in the 25 million tons of slaughterhouse waste that ends up in landfills each year. The new fiber is made from gelatin—a substance created from the unused bones, skin and tendons of livestock. The lab team has built a machine that changes the texture of this leftover gelatin into something that resembles wool and can be used as an alternate textile in clothing production.

gelatin yarn spinning 1
Wendelin J. Stark and Philipp R. Stoessel/ETH Zürich
gelatin glove immersed in water


While manufacturing logistics are still being worked out, the concept points to a rising movement to take back production cycles and use materials to their fullest capacity. New ways of making clothing “are being developed in earnest now because of a heightened awareness of the environmental impact of textile production,” says Wired.

Heightened environmental awareness is leading companies to rethink entire supply chains, rather than making only token efforts toward sustainability. The FML team has positioned their material as a plush alternative to cashmere. And brands such as Patagonia and Freitag have launched reclaimed-fabric lines with sleek imagery and storytelling.