Tech-style Israeli vegan startup that makes clothes from seaweed

0


Written by Rebecca Cairns, CNN

The global fashion industry employs millions of people and is worth it Trillions of dollars.
It does too 10% of global CO2 emissions and causes pollution and waste: in the US only fifteen% of the textiles are recycled, the rest incinerated or landfilled.
For this reason, an Israeli startup is producing a biodegradable, non-toxic and low-energy textile – using algae. Its algae formula can be used to make natural fibers and dyes that use less water than traditional products and cause no waste or pollution, said Renana Krebs, CEO and co-founder of Seaweed.

The company hopes to “harness the power of renewable algae to have a real, real impact on climate change,” she said.

A green solution

Algae, which includes algae, are already used in other industries; Food, pharmaceutical and even biofuel sectors view this group of aquatic organisms as a sustainable material.

Krebs saw an opportunity to apply algae to textiles as well. She has been in the fashion industry for 15 years and has seen firsthand the pollution and waste that the industry has to offer. After quitting her job in 2014, she started Algaeing in 2016.

The algae are supplied by another Israeli company, Algatech, which is grown in seawater in indoor “vertical farms” powered by solar energy. This means that, unlike cotton, it does not take up agricultural land and does not cause any CO2 emissions associated with the use of fertilizers.

Algaeing has developed a patented algae-based formula in its laboratory in Israel. Credit: Courtesy Tammy Bar Shay / Algaeing

Algaeing converts the algae into a liquid formula, which can then be used as a dye or, in combination with cellulose, a plant fiber, can be converted into a textile.

Other companies also see the potential of algae in textiles. The men’s clothing brand Vollebak has a biodegradable T-shirt made from eucalyptus and beech pulp and algae that can be buried in the garden and “Worm food“in 12 weeks; and commissioning AlgiKnit develops a wool-like yarn made from algae.

Krebs said Algaeing’s focus is on changing the supply chain and the company is preparing to launch its patented technology commercially in 2022.

Redesign of the fashion industry

Up to 2,700 liters According to a WWF estimate, freshwater is needed to produce the cotton for a normal T-shirt – that is the equivalent one person Drink water for two years, said Krebs. But she said that the fibers of algae reduce water consumption by 80%.
There is also a human influence: whoever works in textile production is often dangerous chemicals and heavy metals. But the algae-based dye is non-toxic and allergen-free – which is also a plus for consumers.

“Algae and Renana [Krebs] address three central weaknesses in the fashion industry: the dependence on freshwater for fiber cultivation; the use of chemicals, both in pesticides for growing fibers and dyeing textiles; and third, energy consumption. “

Erik Bang, Head of Innovation, H&M Foundation

Currently, algae-based fibers are more expensive than traditional fibers like cotton, but Krebs said it adds value to the brand as a sustainable and ethical product.

The fashion industry has a long tradition – but it is also ripe for a revolution, according to Erik Bang, innovation leader for the H&M Foundation, a non-profit organization privately funded by the founders and main owners of the H&M Group that supports young fashion startups.

Bang said that over the past five years there has been a steady rise in sustainability awareness in fashion, attracting “new types of investors” from diverse backgrounds in technology, materials science and biochemistry.

Its dyes and textiles are biodegradable, non-toxic and vegan.

Its dyes and textiles are biodegradable, non-toxic and vegan. Credit: Courtesy Tammy Bar Shay / Algaeing

Algaeing received the H&M Foundation Global Change Award in 2018, and the company’s work with algae underscores a “brilliant potential source” for future textile fibers, Bang said.

“Algae and Renana [Krebs] address three central weaknesses in the fashion industry: the dependence on freshwater for fiber cultivation; the use of chemicals, both in pesticides for growing fibers and dyeing textiles; and third, energy consumption, “said Bang.

He adds that while consumer behavior is changing, it is still expensive for the industry to invest in and scale up sustainable technology. “We need legislators who change the playing field and lean it so much more in favor of circular and sustainable practices and punish old habits,” said Bangs.

Beyond fashion

While Algae initially focused on reinventing fashion fabrics, the pandemic offered another opportunity. In 2020, Algaeing began working with Avgol, a nonwovens manufacturer specializing in hygiene, medical and PPE products.

Krebs said the pandemic has shown companies and brands that adapting to new challenges is vital. While the most recent challenge has been Covid-19, the bigger, long-term challenge is climate change – and this is where Cancer hopes algae can make a difference.

“We’re creating a new generation, a new product category,” said Krebs.


Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply