Did you know that 128 million tons of milk are wasted every year? LA-based startup Mi Terro is using biotechnology to turn a portion of that food waste into sustainable fibers for biodegradable T-shirts.

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Transforming spoiled milk into clothing may seem like something from the future, but Mi Terro already has it down to a science. Using technology that re-engineers milk proteins, the company has invented a completely unique process that finds an innovative use for food waste and uses 60% less water than an organic cotton shirt.

Related: This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae

Two people wearing black T-shirts with graphic that reads

The method was invented in just three months by co-founders Robert Luo and Daniel Zhuang. After visiting his uncle’s dairy farm in China in 2018, Luo saw just how much milk product gets dumped first-hand, and after some research, he found that the issue was one of a massive global scale.

person holding yarn fibers made from old milk

Step one is to obtain milk and other dairy products from farms, food processing centers and grocery stores. The company then uses “Protein Activation” and “Self-Assembly Purification” technology to extract and purify casein protein molecules from the spoiled milk bacteria. The last step is using “Dynamic Flow Shear Spinning” to spin the clean casein protein into eco-friendly fibers.

machines spinning yarn

Now, we’re sure you’re wondering what a shirt made from dairy feels like. According to the company, it is actually three times softer than cotton, anti-microbial, odor-free, anti-wrinkle and temperature-regulating. If that’s not enough, each T-shirt contains 18 amino acids that can nourish and improve skin texture.

person wearing white T-shirt that reads,

Mi Terro has also committed to planting 15 trees for every purchase. The company doesn’t want to stop there. Its innovative, patent-pending process can also be used to make other eco-friendly products and offer a sustainable substitute for plastic. The goal is to create a new type of circular economy powered by the agricultural waste that has become a growing problem in modern society. Even better, because the fiber is rescued from food waste and processed sans chemicals, it stays biodegradable even after it has reached the end of its second life.

+ Mi Terro

Images via Mi Terro