The world’s first soy carpet has been produced by an Australian company, Customweave. Frank Ricco, the developer of a luxury line of rugs and carpets, describes the texture as a combination of cashmere, velvet and alpaca. Like most other products made with soy, the fiber comes from the “waste” left after processing soy beans. China produces about 14 million tonnes of soy beans a year. Once the soy meal and oil is extracted, the leftover parts of the plant have traditionally been fed to farm animals or sent to landfill.
With an estimated 215 million tonnes of beans harvested each year around the world, thatâs a lot of waste.
About 14 years ago, a Shanghai businessman and scientist, Li Guanqi, realised the potential for turning this by-product into fibre. It took more than a decade for Li to perfect the process but eventually he created a fibre strong enough to be woven into cloth.
Soy floor coverings are particularly suitable for people with respiratory problems or skin allergies. The material has also done well in durability tests.
However, at about $650 a square metre, Soy Luxe is an up-market, niche product â something that may change in the near future. âItâs a matter of saying, rather than bring it to market as a premium product, maybe we should bring it in at a level more comparable comparable to high-quality wool,â Ricco says.
There’s more information about the carpet on the Australian Design Awards web site.