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Creating Sustainable Silk – Farm

Silk is a versatile material and can be found in clothing, parachutes and bicycle tyres – to name a few applications. The substance is created through sericulture: mulberry trees are produced, and their leaves are fed to silkworms who, in turn, eventually spin their cocoons which are harvested into silk. Such a process is intensive, depending on resources being available at the correct moment for such steps to occur naturally. As farming itself has evolved, increased use of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals is negatively affecting the land itself; tilling causing carbon to be released into the atmosphere, this eventually affecting the output and quality of the silk itself.

Based in Nanchong in Sichuan, China, silk supplier and textile manufacturer, Bombyx, is pioneering a new and aspirational silk. The company, formed in 2018, is implementing sustainability throughout the silk manufacturing process, along its vertical supply chain.

Bombyx plant two different kinds of crops together – an innovative agricultural technique called “intercropping”. Given how different crops deplete and release different nutrients into the soil, the crops attain a symbiotic relationship and establish micro-ecosystems that protect both crops from agricultural illnesses and unstable weather conditions.

Sustainability is incorporated into other aspects of farming through the use of organic fertilizers and insecticidal lamps. Additionally, harmful insects are discouraged throughout the year with measures taken during winter to reduce the number of insects that burrow into the mulberry trees.

The silk industry is a traditional sector with a great deal of history; regenerative agriculture is a relatively new concern. However, Bombyx was established with a company-wide mandate to implement positive change in the silk industry and has grown its base area of production from 330 acres to 2,600 within the company’s first year of development. The expansion of Bombyx’s operations speaks to the success of the sustainable methods the company is pioneering.

Bombyx’s approach allows the company to meet sustainability goals in multiple ways. Through reduced tilling and introducing different crops, the company reduces the carbon released into the atmosphere – thereby improving sustainability on an environmental level. Additionally, allowing workers to operate in their hometowns, introducing new sources of income, enhances the relationship between employer and employees while also promoting social sustainability. Bombyx also implements economic sustainability; the company, with control over its vertical supply chain, is in a position where it does not require intermediaries and so can put more finance into research and development and into its workers while remaining competitive when selling its product.

Innovation is rarely implemented in a wholly straightforward manner. Improving an existing process can involve aspects that develop in unforeseen ways. However, Bombyx’s progress in achieving its goals allows a clear demonstration of the benefits that can occur through sustainable development in a traditional industry. The current successes that Bombyx is enjoying should not be understated, its progress leaving the company in a good position to continue in its endeavour.



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