Competitions for sustainable new materials

Fabric made from agricultural waste, garments made of mushrooms, dissolvable thread… This week, the H&M Global Change Award announced its 5 winners, each an attempt to reinvent fashion and make it more sustainable. Find out below what you might be wearing in the future!

Food crops bring food on the plate, but the crop waste creates a huge problem as it is usually burnt or left to rot, which releases carbon dioxide and methane gas into the atmosphere. Crop-A-Porter attempts to change this by turning the waste into a valuable resource that also generates an additional income to the farmers.

The company uses the harvest remains of crops such as oil-seed flax, hemp, sugarcane, bananas and pineapples, turning it into useful bio-fibre through a low-cost, closed loop technology. The fibre can then be turned into a fabric.

Recycling fabric is tricky, especially mixed materials such as the hugely popular polyester and cotton blends. The Regenerator by Swerea is a circular technology that uses an earth-friendly chemical to separate and regenerate cotton and polyester blends into new, fully useable textile fibre.

Conventional fabric production causes many environmental concerns. Growing natural fibres, such as cotton, requires large amounts of water. Textile dyeing is another huge problem, both in terms of water use and pollution.

Alga is a renewable and degradable aquatic organism, and Algalife turns it into bio-fibres and environmentally friendly dye. A bonus effect of wearing clothes made from algae apparel is that the fabric releases anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutrients to the skin.

Zippers and buttons make garment recycling complicated as the removal of such details calls for manual assistance, making the process both costly and time-consuming. Smart Stitch solves this problem by supplying a thread that dissolves at a high temperature. When used for regular seams, the whole piece of clothing can easily be disassembled so that the fabric can be used over and over in new ways, cutting the need to produce fabric from scratch.

Many of us enjoy fashion and trends, but the clothes we get rid of along the way are a big problem. Combined with 3D technology, MycoTEX, made from mycelium, can be turned into custom-made clothes without the need to cut and sew. Once you’ve worn it out, simply bury the garment in the ground to decompose. Read more about this material here.

For the winners of last year’s Global Change Award, click here.

New Material Award
The Global Change Award is of course not the only competition challenging people to develop new and sustainable materials. In the Netherlands, the biannual competition the New Material Award is held, for which you can apply until 27 April. For last time’s winners, click here.

Photos: Neffa / Algalife / Pixabay