In Washington, DC, five pioneering projects aimed at preventing the devastating effects of microplastic pollution have won $525,000 in Conservation X Lab’s (CXL) Microfiber Innovation Challenge, including Mango Materials which transforms methane from waste emissions of carbon into biopolyester fibers.
The winners beat competition from 19 countries for their solutions to prevent the loss of microfibers that are released into water systems when synthetic fabrics are washed.
- Tandem Repeat Technologies (Philadelphia) uses genetic sequencing and synthetic biology to produce a new fiber, Squitex, based on a unique protein structure originally found in squid tentacles.
- Mango Materials (San Francisco) uses innovative manufacturing technology to transform methane from waste carbon emissions into biodegradable biopolyester fibers.
- Natural Fiber Welding (Illinois) manipulates hydrogen bonds in natural fibers (such as cotton) to determine shape and form at the molecular level, dramatically improving performance without using synthetic plastics.
- PANGAIA x MTIX Microfiber Mitigation, a hybrid tech and fashion brand that already has its own range of microplastic-free clothing lines, was founded in Yorkshire, UK, and uses laser technology to reinforce fiber surfaces into a fabric in a way that prevents microfiber shedding.
- Werewool Fibers, (New York) uses the power of natural proteins as inspiration for its fiber design platform from the DNA level, enabling custom characteristics such as color, elasticity or moisture management. Scientists are beginning to understand the scale of the problem microplastic pollution poses. Approximately two million tons of microfibers are released into the ocean each year. Microfibers have been detected at the top of Mount Everest as well as in animals living in the deepest part of the ocean. The ubiquity of microfibers means that it’s estimated that we each consume the equivalent of a plastic credit card every week.