Jalila Essaïdi’s project turns cow dung into textiles

Designer and entrepreneur Jalila Essaïdi says we have an untapped natural resource in manure.

Jalila Essaïdi’s project turns cow dung into textiles

Eindhoven-based designer Jalila Essaïdi believes there’s more we can do with cow dung. According to a report by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch livestock industry has exceeded the 2015 phosphate ceiling by 4.6 million kilogrammes. An excess of phosphate and nitrogen compounds found in manure are harmful to the soil, water and air. Instead of limiting the number of cows in order to regulate the current surplus, Essaïdi proposes that the industry creates a circular economy by using the manure to make a new material.

The eco-friendly fabric is called Mestic, after mest, the Dutch word for manure. The project “generates new sustainable raw materials that can be used by the manufacturing industry, thereby spurring the settlement of new industry and the development of new innovative technologies in the future.”

However, the public needs to first to overcome their natural aversion to waste. According to Ecouterre, Essaïdi deconstructs the manure before teasing out the cellulose within. The cellulose is then transformed into bioplastics, biopaper, and now biotextiles.

Jalila Essaïdi’s project turns cow dung into textiles

Manure can now be considered a valuable resource, said Essaïdi. “A true result would be to completely strip the manure and use the resultant cellulose to manufacture new, biomaterial products. And once you’ve made that step, you’ll notice: manure is worth its weight in gold,” she added.  

The final goal is to make Mestic suitable for application in 3D printers, but that will require more research. “We have to tweak the melting temperatures first.” By the way, the scale-up doesn’t merely apply to the factories, but happens at the source as well: “After cows, we’ll tackle pigs. And after that? Who knows,” said Essaïdi.

Essaïdi made her mark when she presented her bulletproof skin made from spider silk. It was the start of her company, Inspidere BV.