Apple-based leather and seawater greenhouses: the best green innovations of the week
This week's green innovations round-up focuses on select winners and finalists from innovation fund competitions hosted by the likes of Shell, Adidas and Kering.
The past few weeks have seen numerous start-ups benefit from financial backing and the chance to learn from incumbent businesses in scaling up sustainable solutions. Firstly, 15 next generation innovators will be supported by the Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator.
Winners will follow a 12-week curriculum that offers mentorship opportunities from the Accelerator's partners adidas, C&A, Galeries Lafayette, Kering, Target and Zalando, with the aim to transform the fashion industry for good.
The selected start-ups for the third edition of the Accelerator Programme are: Algiknit, BioGlitz, circular.fashion, FLOCUS, Frumat, Good on You, Mango Materials, Nano Textile, Orange Fiber, PAPTIC, PlanetCare, Provenance, Reverse Resources, Scalable Garment Technologies and Style Lend. This round-up will focus on three innovative material-based solutions.
Elsewhere, three UK start-ups were named regional winners of the Shell Springboard programme, hosted at Trinity Hall in Cambridge. The three companies will now compete against other regional winners at the national Shell Springboard final, taking place in London on May 10, 2018, for a total prize of £150,000. Finalist will also receive business advice and guidance.
Shell Springboard has awarded £4m to almost 100 low-carbon entrepreneurs in 13 years, with 84% of the winners still in operations five years after starting up.
For this round-up, edie takes a closer look at the three Springboard finalists, and three innovative solutions from the Fashion for Good accelerator.
Welcome to the coolhouse
The population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, putting huge strains on food outputs. Combine this with climate change and desertification – leading to smaller amounts of arable land for crop production – and existing irrigation practices that over-extract groundwater and you begin to see how various global factors overlap to pose one giant challenge for sustainable food production.
One of the winners of Shell’s Springboard programme, London-based Seawater Greenhouse, has, as the name suggests, developed a pioneering greenhouse system that evaporates seawater to create an ideal climate for crop cultivation.
According to the company, the process that takes place in their “coolhouses” can reduce demand on fresh water for crop use by up to 90%. Solar-powered desalination operations provide the irrigation for the plants. The result, the company claims, is a closed-loop, drought-independent agriculture method that could be placed across a variety of harsh climates. Alongside the other two Springboard finalists, the company will enter finals in May 2018, where they will compete for the overall prize of £150,000.
The second Springboard finalist offers an innovative solution that could provide huge benefits for the rise in electric vehicles (EVs). An additional 25,000 charging points are required on the streets of Britain alone to meet the EV charging needs of 2030, but Oxford-based Brill Power has showcased a method that can extend the life of batteries that interact with these chargers.
Brill Power has developed a cutting-edge battery management system that can increase the lifetime of lithium-ion battery packs by 60%, without any drawbacks on reliability. The company is also confident that the batteries can be used for grid-scale energy storage systems.
The company claims that around 450 watt-hours of energy are required to make one watt-hour of storage – meaning batteries must be used 450 times to reach parity. Brill Power batteries would use 60% fewer cells over the same lifetime. In fact, Brill Power claims that sales of the system alone will offset 2.3m tonnes of carbon equivalents by 2022.
Plastics continue to dominate the news announcements, as brands and retailers continue to plan for a future without packaging that is plaguing the oceans. This has created a window of opportunity for companies with potential solutions to make their elevator pitch, and seemingly Shell has taken note of the solution from Cambridge-based Cambond.
Cambond, which has product development facilities in China, had developed new bio-composite adhesives, known as Camposite, created from plant-based resins, biomass fibres and polymers. Camposite pallets for logistics operations are under trial, but its another product that has generated the most hype.
Wasbeans, a re-usable coffee cup made with waste from spent coffee grounds from Cambond, has already been featured on these round-ups and is notable for its ability to combine plants and plastics that can be upcycled in waste streams to reportedly reduce carbon emissions and save money.
All that glitters is not gold
In November last year, Tops Day Nurseries vowed to stop using glitter at all its nurseries, due to fears that it was contributing to the growing build-up of microplastics seeping into the oceans. Fortunately, one Accelerator winner has come up with a timely solution to this.
BioGlitz has produced what it claims is the world’s first biodegradable glitter. The company uses a biodegradable formula consisting of eucalyptus tree extract to ensure that the glitter is fully-biodegradable and compostable.
While most craft glitter is produced through an aluminium-coated material, BioGlitz’s plant-based solution can reduce concerns regarding micro-plastics. Users have also claimed that the brand’s glitter is lighter in weight and also less irritating to the skin.
A kelping hand
Earlier this year, Just Eat announced it will partner with Skipping Rocks Lab to trial seaweed-based sauce sachets with restaurant partners. The sachets, which are edible or can decompose within six weeks, are a prime example of businesses looking to alternatives to plastic-based products.
It seems that seaweed is set to make its big debut in the fashion industry. Algiknit produces textile fibres that have a “significantly lower environmental footprint than conventional textiles”, notably fibres extruded from kelp – a variety of seaweed.
Algiknit uses a process that turns a biopolymer mixture into a kelp-based thread than can be knitted or 3D-printed in order to minimise waste in the production process. As well as being biodegradable, the final product can be dyed with natural pigments.
An apple a day keeps the leather away
Sometimes innovations are perfectly placed to solve a singular solution. On rare occasions new methods emerge that can tackle multiple issues at once. That is the thought process behind Frumat, a start-up that is creating sustainable materials for use in the fashion sector, built on an ethos around reducing food waste.
Frumat uses apples to create leather replicas. Apple pectin is an industrial waste product, which can now be used to create sustainable materials durable enough to be used for luxury apparel while also being compostable.
Leathers create from the apple pectin can be dyed and tanned naturally, without the need to use chemical-intensive practices common within the industry. Similar Accelerator programme start-ups include Mango Materials and Orange Fiber.
Innovation centre at edie Live
From carbon-eliminating solutions to fresh ideas to drive resource efficiency, the Innovation Centre will showcase the pre-commercial solutions and ideas that could disrupt entire markets and take corporate sustainability to a new level. It will also feature some of the best innovations covered in edie.net in 2017.