Referencing Historical Practices and Emergent Technologies in the Future Development of Sustainable Textiles: A Case Study Exploring "Ardil", a UK-Based Regenerated Protein Fibre
We are currently experiencing a global environmental crisis. Our waste culture is leading to huge irreversible damage to our planet and ecosystems. This is particularly evident in both the textile and food sectors, with a system-wide restructuring as to how we consume and source materials becoming ever more urgent. By considering our waste as resource, we can access a vast source of raw materials that is now being recognised as such. Viable materials in the form of waste have the potential for
... onversion into textiles. However, this proposed solution to our contemporary crisis is not new technology. Throughout the 20th century, science and industry have researched and developed materials from food waste to meet global demand for textiles in times of need, with a major development during the world wars being the invention of regenerated protein fibres (RPFs). For various reasons, this research was abandoned, but much of the development work remains valid. This research critically analyses work that has previously been done in the sector to better our understanding of the historical hindrances to the progression of this technology. By applying modern thinking and scientific advances to historical challenges, there is the potential to overcome previous barriers to utilising food waste as a resource. One of the key influences in the discontinuation of RPFs was the rise of petrochemical textiles. Our current understanding of the detriment caused by petrochemicals warrants a further review of historical emergent technologies. This paper uses Ardil fibre as a case study, and shows that there is a clear disparity between the location of historic research and where the research would now be helpful. Ardil was a British-made product, using peanuts sourced from the British Empire as the source of protein. Techniques used in the processing of Ardil could be better utilised by countries and climates currently producing large amounts of peanut byproducts and waste. Through this research, another historical concern that thwarted Ardil's acceptance as a mainstream fibre was discovered to be its poor tensile strength. However, contemporary garment life cycles are far shorter than historical ones, with built-in obsolescence now being considered as a solution to fast fashion cycles by matching the longevity of the fibre to the expected use phase of the garment, but ensuring suitable disposal methods, such as composting. This research highlights the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration between sectors, with a specific focus on the wealth of valuable information available within historical archives for modern sustainability goals.