Meet our heroes – the winners of the Global Change Award – and find out how their innovations are reinventing the fashion and textile industry.
Polyester and elastane blend materials are notoriously difficult to recycle. Or, they were. Re:lastane has developed a technique that separates the two and transforms end-of-life garments into valuable raw materials.
Dream of resurrecting a beloved garment that’s lost shape, faded in colour or started to pill? This laundry solution makes worn garments brand new in just one wash.
Every year, vast amounts of cotton crops are lost to pests. With the help of artificial intelligence, farmers can now monitor and counter infestation before any crops are destroyed, resulting in less pesticide use, bigger harvests, and higher incomes for farmers.
Revolutionary fibres derived from nature itself. In the production process, the proteins found in organisms are built into the fabric on a DNA level to make biodegradable materials with the desired colour, stretch, moisture and water repellence. No need for further processing which traditionally puts strain on the planet.
Using a powerful jet engine to treat wastewater in the production stages in factories, by turning the toxic sludge into more manageable dry powder and extracting clean water to be released or reused.
Using blockchain technology to track and verify the use of sustainable fibres all the way from fibre to garment. A digital fibercoin ensures transparency and reliability throughout the entire production line and beyond.
When making garments, a lot of fabric scraps are usually generated in the cutting process, which are simply thrown away. This innovation uses digital manufacturing to eliminate such waste and the 3D printed garment can easily be melted down into new fabrics and used again.
Few garments are designed with perfect circularity in mind. But to protect our planet, we need to radically shift from our “take-make-waste” mindset to another model. The German innovators circular.fashion might have a solution that can change how garments are designed, used and disposed.
Green Nettle Textile
Is it possible to make a business on hard-to-access, thin-soiled steep slopes where irrigation is tricky, and machines can’t reach? At first it looks impossible, but Green Nettle Textile found a solution that is as simple as it’s brilliant – you grow what would grow there naturally; stinging nettles.
Parents struggle to keep up in every way, including dressing their little ones as they crawl, climb and explore the world. As children grow seven sizes in their first 2 years, there’s an appalling amount of children’s clothes that are bought but barely worn before they’re outgrown. However, with inspiration drawn from origami, Petit Pli found an ingenious way to design clothes that grows with the child.
Besides demanding the lives of millions of animals each year, conventional leather production is harmful to the environment due to the toxins and heavy metals used for tanning. While there are vegan alternatives on the market, few have been able to match all the unique properties of real leather. That is, until now.
As the demand for clothing increases with the growing human population, the waste created in the fashion industry continues to escalate. One process in the fashion industry that creates a lot of excess waste, is in design and pattern making. Through AI, Synflux found an innovative way to apply a more circular mindset.
Crops brings food on the plate, but the crop waste is usually burnt or just left to rot, polluting the world around us. At the same time, alternatives are needed to the fashion staple cotton, since there won’t be enough cotton to dress a growing population. Agraloop flipped the common perspective and instead of crop waste saw a valuable resource that indeed can compete with cotton in the fashion industry.
Recycling is still one of the biggest obstacles in the fashion industry, and game changing ideas are needed to give old garments a new life instead of ending up in landfill. Resortecs looked at the details and realized a lot could be done if only the seams would let go easily in the recycling process.
MycoTEX by NEFFA
We are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we all need something to wear each day. Many of us enjoy fashion and trends, but the clothes we no longer want are a big problem. Aniela Hoitink got fed up with everyone expecting someone else to change this and decided to do something herself. The result? Mushroom roots that can be turned into sustainable and compostable garments.
Worn-out and damaged clothes are often just thrown away, instead of being repaired. This leads to enormous amounts of textile waste. What if your t-shirt or jacket instead could repair itself and extend its lifecycle?
Not only does animal leather production require the lives of millions of animals annually, it also affects the environment by using acids, heavy metals and lots of water for tanning. Production of synthetic leather alternatives might save the lives of animals, but generates pollution with synthetic polymers, plasticizers and solvents. Strangely enough, a glass of wine might be the solution.
Nylon is a popular synthetic fiber in the fashion industry, not only for hosiery which may what first comes to mind, but also for blouses, dresses, tights, underwear, raincoats, swimwear and more. However, the making of nylon is all but sustainable. Until now. Sunthetics are working towards a greener process of making nylon where plant waste and the sun plays an important part.
By changing the mindset from perceiving cow manure as smelly waste, to a valuable resource that we could wrap ourselves in, Jalila Essaïdi has paved the way for a new, bio-material. This material can reinvent the fashion industry, and at the same time reduce methane gas in the atmosphere and lessen contamination in water and soil.
Denim jeans are one of the most iconic styles in fashion, and the single most common apparel item on the market. Unfortunately, the traditional process of dyeing denim requires large amounts of water and energy. With a circular mindset, a team at Deakin University came up with an innovation that uses no water at all.
EON / Adetexs
Each year, 80 billion new garments are produced around the world, but textiles has one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material today. One of the biggest barriers to textile recycling is that we often don’t know what the clothes are made of. To bridge this communication gap between manufacturers and recyclers, Natasha Franck and Dr Anura Rathnayake developed a digital thread that stores the content information needed to recycle each garment automatically.
There used to be one or perhaps two, sales per year at your next door fashion store, to clear old stock and make room for new. But now sales are the norm – some brands seem to never sell anything at full price anymore. How come? Why is over production the norm? Can it be solved through new technology? Yes, unspun has shown it’s possible.
It takes up to 7,000 litres of fresh water to grow cotton for just one pair of jeans. And the demand for cotton is increasing – but it’s a limited resource. At the same time, tons of textiles are thrown away every day and end up as landfill. What if cotton could be recycled without any quality loss?
40 million tons of polyester from the fashion industry ends up in landfill each year. Faced with this fact – what if we could recycle polyester?
What if the solution to our future lies just below the surface of the ocean? According to Dutch inventor and Global Change Award 2015 winner Tjeerd Veenhoven, that might just be the case.
In the fashion world, cotton is a real staple that has dressed people for centuries. However, cotton is not an endless resource and alternatives are needed to attire a growing population. Could 700,000 tons of citrus peel be the solution? The Italian team Orange Fiber decided to give it a go.
150 billion garments are produced each year – but over 30% of the materials used in the process go to waste. But it’s not waste – it’s a valuable resource for someone else. What if these spilled resources could be mapped, traced and easily transferred to another user? This is exactly what Reverse Resources has done, and the fashion industry is a little bit more circular.
A vending machine for rental clothes.
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