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Turning waste tree bark into pigment and fabric

Researcher Charlotte Wenig of the German Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces investigated the potential of tree bark and found it can be used as a pigment for textile dye and glaze, as well as a type of textile.

Tree bark is a waste product of the traditional wood industry. Commonly, it is either downcycled into briquettes or burned as a waste product, causing CO2 emissions. With her doctoral thesis, The Bark Project, Wenig investigated the potential of this raw material. The project investigated both the chemical and the structural composition of bark.

Tree bark consist for 1/3 of resin or tannins, which vary from tree to tree, even within the same species, depending on the age, size and location of a tree.

Wenig found bark can be flexibilised, pressed or processed into pigment in an ecologically friendly way. Pine bark, especially, can be flexibilised in just one step using an environmentally friendly, tradition method of leaf preservation.

When turned into a pigment, the material can be used in glazes and textile fibres.

The project was a Green Concept Award Nominee 2021.

Images: Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces / Patrick Walter (via Green Product Awards)