Midlothian entrepreneur has high hopes for ‘ethical’ insulation product

John Ferguson is now in talks with a number of suppliers. Picture: Contributed
John Ferguson is now in talks with a number of suppliers. Picture: Contributed
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A Midlothian company is forecasting six-figure sales after launching a new thermal insulation product made from the sisal plant grown in east Africa.

Sisaltech, which says the product is 100 per cent natural and biodegradable, is expecting to generate a turnover of £250,000 in year one and create three jobs, thanks to ongoing support from organisations including Business Gateway Midlothian.

While working in Malawi training farmers on coping with climate change, social entrepreneur John Ferguson began researching ways in which sisal could be used to create products which he could manufacture and allow him to plough funds back into helping small scale farmers in Tanzania.

Although the fibre from the plant is shipped from Africa, the end product, after being blended with recycled fibres, sustainable binders and fire retardants, is said to have a significantly lower carbon footprint than other insulation products.

The firm is already is discussion with various customers, including major housebuilders.

Ferguson, who hails from Edinburgh, said: “Having worked with small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa I felt motivated to start an ethical business that would help them trade their way out of poverty.

“As we experimented and started prototyping I was really excited to discover that sisal can be used to make a great insulation product, particularly when blending with other recycled textile fibres,” he added.

Ann Marie Macaskill, head of Business Gateway Midlothian, said: "It has been great learning more of Sisaltech’s opportunities to provide sustainable and ethical solutions to insulation in this country and beyond.

"As we look towards becoming a low carbon economy, I am delighted Business Gateway Midlothian has been able to support this local company’s ambition and development which has global impact."