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Spotlight on bio-based textiles: Regenerative materials sourced from plants, not petroleum-based synthetic plastics

By Dr. Luke Haverhals, founder and CEO of Natural Fiber Welding

Even before COVID, many have been recognising the need to ‘bend the curve(s)’ with regard to emissions, dependence on finite resources, and plastic pollution. In the past half century, the fashion and textile industries have become overdependent on non-renewable, often toxic plastics that do not degrade. While ‘inexpensive’ petroleum has fuelled the rise of fast fashion, scientists around the world are now alerting humanity about the true cost of a pandemic of plastic microfibre pollution, the relatively high carbon footprint of plastic production (and energy intensive) recycling processes, and the ancillary effects on the health of people and our shared environments.

Simply put, humanity is at a pivotal point in history.  We live in a world that we can now recognise is a finite village. Even so, billions of wonderfully diverse people are living as second class citizens because of the problems associated with building a linear economy that has a foundation of constraining finite fossil resources.  Humanity is poised to bend the arc of our economic destiny as the confluence of science, technology, and new ideas reflux together under the heat and pressure of disrupted supply chains and the recognition of what is really important.

Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) was founded on the premise that nature – and life itself – is the original circular economy.  Life is replete with complex materials that are made from nutrients and can be continuously repurposed and renewed.  Of course, at the foundation of this economy are regenerative green plants powered by sunlight. More new plant matter will grow in an average day on earth than the tonnage of all synthetic materials produced by people in a year.

NFW is working on fast, efficient ways to transform this photosynthetic abundance into useful all-natural analogues that outperform synthetic plastics across the entire performance spectrum ranging from ecology to economy.  Our first focus is scaling production of high-performance Mirum leather-like materials and Clarus fabrics that are made from plants instead of plastics. NFW materials are made from natural nutrients…and can be recycled both by using our scientific breakthroughs and also through natural degradation. By using raw ingredients sourced from regenerative agriculture, NFW connects carbon farming to massive materials markets and in ways that is positioning farmers to be heroes on the frontlines fighting and even reversing climate change.

COVID is teaching the world a concept that NFW has been founded to execute as we develop earth and people friendly materials: ‘less is more’. The NFW team is growing and partnering with those of you who are likeminded and who wish to be the change you want to see in this world – those of you who are doing all that you can to enjoy the journey both in good times and in challenging times.

This expert view is part of BMI’s spotlight week on bio-based textiles. Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bio Market Insights’ editorial team and management.

If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: 5 Minutes With…Georgia Parker from Fashion for Good.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Jonah Mwangi from Green Nettle Textile.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Mattias Bodin from H&M

Read: Bringing sustainable fashion to the forefront of the UK’s high-street.

Read: Nettle fibre producer and lab-made leather maker pick up top award for helping to make fashion sustainable.

Read: WRAP announces textiles recycling and reuse grant

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