Italy’s spoiled milk is being put to use by an Italian fashion designer who is spinning it into a yarn and creating T-shirts and baby clothing.
Italy wastes an estimated 30 million tonnes of dairy each year, according to the Italian agricultural association Coldiretti. But now Tuscany-based fashion designer Antonella Bellina is helping to reduce that problem, having developed a method of converting milk protein into a silky fibre.
One T-shirt takes less than half a gallon of milk to make. The final product is soft, and fortunately, doesn’t smell like sour milk.
Antonella Bellina’s company, Duedilatte collects expired milk from local farms. The process of turning sour milk into yarn begins with the milk being heated to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Citric acid is then added to separate the whey from the protein. The casein protein is then strained, dried and ground into powder. A machine described by Antonella Bellina as “a giant cotton candy spinner” then whips the powder into a fibre. Finally, it’s twisted into thread and woven into fabric.
Antonella Bellina was inspired to put sour milk to use five years ago while making her morning coffee. She explained: “I opened the fridge and found that the milk had expired. I thought, ‘why do I have to throw this in the trash? I can use this.'”
Duedilatte produces fabric as well as T-shirts and baby outfits, which cost around $50 and $30 respectively. The range is currently only available in Italy but the company hopes to enter the international market later this year.
Antonella Bellina is also planning to expand the milk fibre range into bedding and even medical products like bandages.