Founded by Robert Goldman in 1950, Carnegie Fabrics is a family-owned business with a commitment to quality and innovation which makes the research and development of sustainable textiles a priority. Xorel fabric, which is paper backed for use as a wallcovering, was introduced by Carnegie Fabrics in 1981 and was the first textile to address long-term issues of maintenance and safety in commercial interiors. It is woven using 100% polyethylene yarns and is more durable than vinyl while also being a healthier alternative. Xorel contains no chlorine, plasticizers, heavy metals, toxic dyes or ozone-depleting chemicals so there is virtually no off-gassing. Polyethylene is inherently flame-retardant, stain-resistant, antimicrobial, non-absorbent and can even be cleaned with a diluted bleach solution. Xorel is Cradle to Cradle certified Silver. The only downside to this product was that the polyethylene was derived from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource.
This led Carnegie Fabrics back to the drawing board, and after seven years of research introduced BioBased Xorel, the world’s first bio-based interior textile introduced in June 2013. Bio-Based Xorel is identical to the petroleum-based Xorel on a molecular level but is 60-85% derived from sugar cane, a rapidly renewable material, greatly exceeding federal guidelines about what constitutes bio-based. “Veneer” is woven from a single color yarn and contains a subtle woodgrain or moire pattern. The pattern is created by running the fabric under a heated roller which slightly melts the polyethylene, adding a slight relief and a different reflective quality to the heated area. The production of polyethylene from sugar cane greatly reduces the carbon footprint over petroleum-based products and for every ton of the raw material produced the sugar cane captures and sequesters 2.5 tons of carbon. The polyethylene yarn is produced using 95% biogenic energy through use of the sugar cane waste. After its useful life all Xorel products can be returned to Carnegie for responsible reuse. The BioBased Xorel is Cradle to Cradle certified Gold and some of the factors leading to this Gold certification level include: the manufacture of polyethylene from sugar cane uses up to 60% less energy and generates 40% less greenhouse gas than producing it from petroleum; the fabric is woven at a plant using 100% renewable energy including hydropower and solar panels; and no water is consumed in the yarn production process. Carnegie is in the process of phasing out the original Xorel for the BioBased Xorel.