Startup Upcycles Unused Milk Into Sustainable Clothing

Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that, “A Los Angeles-based startup that upcycles unused milk into sustainable clothing is in talks with leading dairy companies in China over strategic partnerships, said the company’s founder and chief executive.

“Mi Terro’s Robert Luo said he is discussing investment with dominant firms in the Chinese dairy market, where the startup sources its raw materials. Since the launch in June 2019 of its t-shirts made using fabric produced from excess milk, Mi Terro has generated more than $100,000 in revenue from online sales to customers in more than 40 countries, Luo said in an interview.”

The Bloomberg article noted that, “Luo’s inspiration came not from clothing waste but from food. On a visit to his uncle’s dairy farm in China, he saw ‘buckets and buckets’ of spoiled milk going unused. ‘I realized it’s a huge problem that we just don’t talk about enough,’ he said.

“When he returned to the US, he worked with a childhood friend with a background in material science and chemistry to find a use for the waste. After three months of researching they started to work out a solution that can extract the casein protein from the milk and spin it into fiber. The fats are removed from the milk before de-watering it to become powdered milk. Proteins are then isolated and solidified into fibers which are stretched and spun into yarn that is ready to be used in making clothing.”

The article added that, “The startup is preparing to expand its food waste innovation beyond fashion. It is working on new technology that will help dairy makers recycle whey waste into biodegradable food packaging film, Luo said.”

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