By Julián Negro
Vitoria, Spain, May 7 (EFE).- The removal of petroleum derivatives and plastics from our daily lives is one of the greatest environmental challenges we face, and wool has woven its way into that fight thanks to a cross-border European project, Lanaland.
The Franco-Spanish initiative is coordinated by Neiker, a technology center under the Basque regional government that specializes in the creation of innovative solutions for the agro-livestock and forestry sectors.
The project arose from the need to provide an outlet for the wool of the Latxa sheep, native to the Basque Country and Navarre, which has not been used for several years.
The sheep, whose milk is used for the production of Idiazabal cheese, are sheared annually, resulting in about 2,000 tons of wool per year.
The project coordinator, Miriam Pinto, tells Efe how this volume of wool takes up a “huge space.” With a density of between 20 and 50 kilos per square meter, they needed to find a solution.
The idea was born to work on increasing the value of “latxa wool in order to turn this residual material into a new valuable product that could provide extra income to farms while solving an environmental problem.”
While merino wool has an obvious use in textiles because it is soft and well established on the market, latxa is what is known as a “coarse” wool, with characteristics that make it “extremely rough, which excludes it, a priori, from (…) the textile market.”
One of the four projects Lanaland is focusing on is the creation of biodegradable material from latxa wool, such as beacon tapes for, for example, marking trail running courses.
The first beacon prototypes are already manufactured and now researchers are studying the degradability and compostability of the final product.