Biobased materials and enzymatic recycling dominate fashion innovation list

Fashion for Good selects ten new innovators for its 2024 programme - a cohort that represents an increased focus on novel footwear material, recycling technologies and man-made cellulosics.

Fashion for Good 2024 Innovation Programme
Credit: Presstigieux
Fashion for Good is a foundation that aims to “promote and stimulate a sustainable and responsible clothing industry”. At its core lies an Innovation Programme that exists to “connect those working on sustainable innovation with brands, retailers, manufacturers and funders to bring new ideas and technologies from niche to norm.”

Building on a renewed five-year strategy, Fashion for Good has now selected ten new innovators for its 2024 programme to receive support by way of mentorship and business development opportunities from its corporate partners Chanel, Burberry, Levi Strauss & Co, Patagonia, C&A, Adidas, Bestseller, Kering, Otto Group, PVH Corp, Target and Zalando.

Katrin Ley, Managing Director at Fashion for Good, said: “We are thrilled to unveil this year's cohort of ten new innovators for our Innovation Programme. These groundbreaking technologies epitomise our steadfast commitment to embedding new technologies within the fashion industry."

The 2024 Innovation Programme cohort:

  • Algreen Ltd: Algreen co-develops alternative materials from algae and biobased sources to replace fossil-based products such as PU. Their primary innovation is the development of a biobased polyurethane and they target industries such as cosmetics, fashion, packaging, automotive, and medical with an approach that combines biotechnology, chemistry, and material science.
  • Balena: Balena is a material science company focused on the development of advanced biopolymer materials that are designed for circularity. Balena creates biodegradable, partly-biobased polymers for footwear outsoles and their BioCir® materials can be decomposed in a controlled compost environment. Balena’s materials are tailored for the durable consumer goods industry, with ongoing development for specific performance needs.
  • Epoch Biodesign: Epoch Biodesign is an enzymatic recycler of PA66 and PA6 textile waste. Their pioneering methodology, Total BioDesign™, combines multiple disciplines to develop enzymatic processes aimed at industrial applications. ​
  • Fibre52: Fibre52 is a bio-based solution replacing traditional bleach prepared-for-dyeing and dye processes, offering a sustainable cotton processing solution. Their technology, which is patent-pending, enhances the Prepare For Dye (PFD) and dye process to save water, energy, and time without using harsh, toxic chemicals. 
  • Gencrest BioProducts Pvt Ltd: Gencrest works with various agri-residues, which they convert into textile-grade fibres using enzymatic technology. Their work to create next-generation fibres spans various sectors including agriculture, energy and plastics production.
  • HeiQ AeoniQ: HeiQ AeoniQ™ is a continuous cellulose filament yarn with enhanced tensile properties, which could replace synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon. The product is made from sources such as non-valorized agricultural waste and bacterial cellulose, and is designed for recyclability and biodegradability.
  • Nanollose - Nullabor: Nullarbor™Lyocell is developed from microbial cellulose which is converted into pulp to produce a tree-free lyocell fibre with their partner Birla Cellulose. The material is produced using little land, water, or energy and offers an alternative to traditional lyocell fibres derived from wood pulp. 
  • REGENELEY: REGENELEY pioneers advanced shoe sole recycling technologies by separating and recycling EVA, TPU, and rubber components found in footwear. Their process tackles the challenge of recycling shoes made from numerous materials and components.
  • Samsara Eco: Samsara Eco is an enzymatic recycler of PA66 and PET textile waste.
  • SEFF: SEFF Fibre produces cottonised fibres and blends of hemp fabrics utilising a patented HVPED process to produce a material that is naturally antimicrobial and anti-UV. Their technology blends hemp fibre seamlessly with most existing fibres.

Textiles recycling

The textiles industry is responsible for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions - more than international flights and maritime shipping combined - and is more environmentally damaging than plastic. Huge volumes of energy and water are used to make the clothing that we wear and harmful chemical by-products from the manufacturing process make their way into waterways and soils.

Further, 62 per cent of used clothing and textiles in Europe end up being incinerated or sent to landfill. Globally, 92 million tonnes of textile waste end up in landfills every year.

As highlighted in EuRIC’s textiles life-cycle assessment, innovation in fibre-to-fibre recycling will be a major part of developing circularity for the industry.

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