Milk cotton also called milk fiber or casein fiber is a type of fabric that is made with the casein powder found in milk, mixed with several substances to provide it with a cotton-like texture. In the 1930s, Italy and the USA were a pioneer in making Lanital, a wool-like textile made from milk to compete with wool, but production stopped during WWII. Initially, formaldehyde and large amounts of water were used in the manufacturing process. These days, most casein fiber is mixed with acrylonitrile, which is the same substance that’s used to make acrylic clothing and so this milk cotton mixed with acrylonitrile isn’t a truly organic fiber, and it is generally considered to be synthetic or semi-synthetic.
Where Is Milk Cotton Fabric Produced?
Since this kind of textile is not produced in large quantities, no one nation is thought to be a major producer. China is the world’s top producer of milk cotton blended with acrylonitrile, making it dangerous for the environment, followed by the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy.
How Much Does Milk Cotton Fabric Cost?
In general, milk cotton is expensive. Depending the process, it can take about 100 gallons of milk to make only three pounds of milk fiber. The primary reason for the casein fiber industry’s initial decline in the mid-1900s was the high cost of this fabric. Today even with the advancement of more effective manufacturing techniques, the cost to produce this textile hasn’t decreased significantly.
What Are the Environmental Effects of Milk Cotton Fabric Mixed with Acrylonitrile?
Depending on the kind of manufacturing process used, casein fabric can have different environmental effects. If the acrylonitrile used in the milk cotton production process is not disposed of properly, it can have detrimental effects on both the environment and human health. When ingested, breathed in, or absorbed through the skin, acrylonitrate is a chemical that causes cancer. Clothing containing acrylonitrile has the potential to cause cancer, if the acrylonitrile is improperly disposed of during fabrication. Production workers who also come into contact with it may experience serious health consequences.
How Does Organic Milk Cotton Fabric Impact the Environment?
It also depends on the kind of manufacturing process that is used. For example, a plant in Europe Qmilk uses renewable energy sources and strives to generate nearly “zero waste” residues. The factory uses organic milk coming from grass with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. QMILK is the only natural fiber that has thermo-bonding properties. Thus, other natural fibers can also be combined without conventional plastics or phenolic resins. So, lightweight constructions remain 100% and can be composted. One kilogram of textile is produced using only two liters of water which is a major ecological benefit unlike cotton, which continues to be one of the most used materials in the fashion industry. Because milk fiber absorbs color well, coloring requires less dye and water, and because it is white, the abrasive bleaching agent is not needed during production.
Where to find Organic Milk cotton in Vietnam
While this fabric experienced its heyday in the early decades of the 20th century, it fell into obscurity as other synthetic or semi-synthetic fabrics became cheaper and more prevalent. Today, even if the production of milk cotton worldwide is minimal, textile producers are focusing on the potential that protein-based fibers have to solve the environmental issues associated with producing cotton and other staple textile crops.
There are only a few suppliers worldwide that meet all the standards for organic milk fabric. In Vietnam, WELLFABRIC is a reliable destination. WELLFABRIC which is a fabric division of Bao Lan Textile Co., Ltd existed since 2011one as the pioneering sustainable textile wholesaler in Vietnam. Their mission is to promote the development of sustainable fashion by making eco-fabrics. Their strength lies in fabric research and development and they collaborate with textile engineers and universities to innovate and produce new eco-fabrics every year. WELLFABRIC has been certified by reputable organizations for quality and environmental standards such as Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and GOTS. This certification demonstrates that their products meet stringent safety and sustainability criteria. They supply every year’s markets both domestically and internationally such as Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Advantages of milk fabric
Textiles made from milk are not only of superior quality but they also absorb moisture well and are incredibly resistant and durable. Similar to silk and wool, milk fiber is light, soft, and thermoregulatory, so in warmer climates, no perspiration.
Organic textiles derived from milk can go at high temperatures in washing machines and Milk cotton yarn is naturally hypoallergenic, antifungal, and antibacterial.
Due to the natural color of milk protein, milk cotton yarn comes in limited shades and tones.
Milk cotton yarn is generally slightly more expensive than regular cotton yarn.
Milk cotton yarn is still a relatively new product and may not be as widely available as other types of yarn.
Because milk fabric is made from cow’s milk, the product has a few disadvantages as well. Milk production is part of animal agriculture, which is responsible for several harmful practices, such as contributing to greenhouse gases and animal abuse.