October 2021

Flocus™ on Solomodasostenibile, the Italian podcast on sustainable textile

The Italian textile expert and journalist Silvia Gambi hosted Flocus™ in her podcast Solomodasostenibile of to talk about its amazing properties.

The interview is in Italian and by clicking here you can listen to the episode in which Silvia Gambi interviews Sara Cicognani, co-founder Head of Marketing and Communication of Flocus™. You can find Solomodasostenibile podcast also on Spreaker.

Those who do not speak Italian can read the contents of the interview in English below.

1) How did you discover kapok’s fiber? How did you decide to make it available on the European market?

FLOCUS™ was founded in 2016 by Jeroen Muijsers (CEO and technical director) and me, Sara Cicognani (marketing and sales director). The entrepreneurial idea came in 2014when we came across the enormous potential of Kapok fibers and we found out that nobody had taken interest in it. We didn’t discover anything new, Kapok has been used for generations as a filling material for pillows and matrasses, but with the introduction of synthetic fibers, cheaper and faster to acquire it was simply forgotten. So we decided that we had to make it known and start an Eco sustainable revolution! We needed to let the world understand all of the sustainable an technical qualities this fiber holds such as natural anti-moth, anti-mite, thermoregulation, antimould, quick dry, etc. We lived in China at the time so the step to finding kapok in Asia was very easy for us.

2) You are using a patented technology to process the fiber. Can you tell me more about it?

We have a patented technology to prepare the fiber for spinning and nonwovens. The fiber is very short and light, so we had to find a way to make it easier to spin.

3) Flocus™ is very attentive to the production of the raw material: I read that you are about to open an innovative plant in Indonesia. How important is social responsibility to you?

Yes, we are very proud of it. Our innovative structure is a keypoint of our future strategy, because at the moment there is nothing like it. The current way of sourcing the kapok fibers is becoming increasingly obsolete and it is facing many challenges as labour shortages, manual sorting in conditions that can definitely improve, with consequent problems in terms of production efficiency and mostly scalability.

With our new CSR automized facility ready by the first quarter of 2022 we will be able to finally scale Kapok and provide markets that needed scalability, also with the help of our product development team.

4) Kapok is a very versatile fiber, used in fashion, furniture, automotive. Are there other applications to discover?

The applications of FLOCUS™ kapok fibers and non-woven padding include fabrics and yarns, construction with insulating panels, acoustic sound absorbing panels hygienic, medical, composite and pressed packaging material, non-woven fabric for the absorption of oil spills, only to mention some.

5) What does it mean that it is a "totally sustainable open source concept"?

When using Flocus™ kapok, people can customize their products from fiber to any mixed yarn mixed fabric, they can create anything according to their needs. It is a very atypical configuration because we are involved vertically, not only at fibre level, but also at yarn level, padding, non-woven fabric, etc.

6) Is circularity important for you? Is kapok recyclable?

Circularity is very important for us!

Flocus™ kapok has no impact on the environment, the tree itself does not need irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides and the fiber we extract from the pods is ready for use without further processing. Actually, with Flocus™ kapok we create a carbon compensation and we have a positive impact on the planet. In the fashion industry, for example, brands are more and more concerned of reducing their impact on the environment, but in my opinion that’s the wrong way to think about it. We should not impact the planet but use materials that heal it, and with kapok we can .

Choosing Flocus™ kapok they can have a good environmental impact, a healing process. Flocus™ kapok is natural and biodegradable, when raw it can degrade in the soil spontaneously turning into a natural fertilizer. The fact that kapok has such a positive impact makes it the perfect product NOT to be recycled, because the processes to recycle it will consume much more energy than the simple use of new fiber. Moreover, with the scalability that will be available from our project of planting more trees there will be more carbon offset to return to the planet. We have created a foundation to plant kapok trees and some of our customers are already joining us in this important project.

7) Has the pandemic affected the production of this fibre?

The main problem we faced is within the supply chain, the transport problems and, of course, some factories that were working with us had problems working at full speed. The annual harvest of kapok and its production were not affected by the pandemic.