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Replacing Cotton with Low-Impact Flax Fiber Solution by: CRAiLAR Technologies

CRAiLAR’s Flax Fiber drastically reduces chemical and water usage, creating fabrics that are indistinguishable from cotton.

The Triple Bottom Line

Environmental CRAiLAR reports that it requires fewer herbicides, pesticides, and 99% less water to produce the same amount of finished fiber as cotton.

Social The company claims that its fiber produces more than three times the yield per acre compared to cotton, alleviating pressure on local food production.

Economic Through a seamless integration into the current supply chain, deployment requires no additional equipment or starting costs.

Due to its scratchy texture, flax has traditionally been synonymous with discomfort. Its application as a fiber has been limited by its structure, which allowed it to be woven into linen, but not knitted like cotton. Developed in collaboration with the National Research Council Canada, the all-natural, enzymatic process used to create CRAiLAR unlocks the potential of flax as a high-performing, ecofriendly natural fiber. Based on ongoing testing, garments made of or blended with CRAiLAR Flax Fiber outperform pure cotton, according to the company. The fiber is strong, dries quickly, and shrinks less. It wicks in a similar manner to synthetics, while offering the breathability and comfort of cotton. Why a Sustainia100 solution? Cotton represents almost half of the fiber produced globally. Simultaneously, producing cotton garments is a water- and chemical-intensive process resulting in substantial damage to ecosystems.1 CRAiLAR is focusing on integrating its low-impact substitute fiber into the apparel and textile industries, partnering with large brands with the goal of making sustainably produced clothing and textile goods accessible to all.

Developed: Canada, UK, Belgium, and USA

Deployed: 10 countries, including El Salvador, Malaysia, and Pakistan.

1 WWF Global. “Cotton: A Water Wasting Crop.” Online:

“We imagine a world where corporations can pursue  profit and environmental stewardship  with  equal effort .” Ken Barker, CEO, CRAiLAR Technologies


Sustainia100 2014