Hemp fiber processing factory in France seen as weapon in fight against ‘fast fashion’
Caylus france


A French cooperative recently inaugurated a hemp fiber processing center in the Occitanie region of France, specializing in producing “ecological and ethical” fibers for the textile and construction industries.

Located in Caylus, Tarn-et-Garonne, the cooperative named Virgocoop aims to boost the local hemp production chain, as per the leadership’s vision.

Virgocoop is currently developing traceability measures and labeling standards for hemp fibers, while also advocating for organic farming practices among local farmers. In 2023, the cooperative managed to cultivate 200 hectares of hemp and process 1,500 tons of straw, accounting for 10% of France’s total production last year.

Textiles with ‘meaning’

This initiative serves as a response to the negative impacts of “fast fashion” – the high-volume, low-quality clothing production that leads to exploitation, environmental degradation, and wastefulness. Such practices are responsible for a significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Established in 2018, Virgocoop currently boasts 270 members and aims to recruit 100 more, according to General Director Johann Vacandare. The cooperative welcomes producers, fiber processors, construction experts, fashion brands, and consumers. Notable members of the cooperative include clothing brands Atelier Tuffery and Baserange, designer Héloïse Levieux, and German brand Wildling Shoes.

The primary goal of the hemp initiative is to bring purpose back to the textile industry by engaging citizens, farmers, businesses, and communities in developing an ecological and ethical textile sector that drives local growth.

25 production lines

Virgocoop secured €75,000 in funding from the Occitanie regional government last year for the new decortication factory. The technical fibers produced at the facility are used in hemp yarn manufacturing and insulation for construction purposes. The Caylus facility operates 25 production lines of varying capacities that can be combined with materials like wool or linen.

In addition to hemp, Virgocoop is exploring the potential of nettle for sail and rope production, as well as cotton cultivation.

With a turnover of €300,000 in 2023, the cooperative aims to achieve €1 million this year.

Source: La Gazette du Midi



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Georgi Ivanov

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