The fashion industry emits a whopping 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). As a result, every stakeholder in the value chain needs to take ownership of their carbon emissions to mitigate their impact on climate change.
Known as a climate-positive solution, innovators have been able to develop design processes that enable greenhouse gas emissions to be captured and stored for use, as well as ones that remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with the goal of reducing carbon emissions to the point of net-zero.
This requires evaluating the lifecycle and supply chain of a product to identify its footprint and thus areas of reduction to balance out total emissions, before taking one step further in capturing and offsetting carbon emissions. Traditionally fossil-fuel based processes are then substituted with those using renewable energy and low-carbon materials. Nature-based solutions are common, involving the use of plants that hold captured atmospheric carbon materials (e.g. cacti), resulting in a reduced climate footprint. Additional measures can also take place through negative emission technologies such as reforestation and ocean fertilization to permanently remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. Technology has also aided the process of creating low-carbon, or carbon-negative, materials. The term refers to the net emissions created, whereby materials or processes remove a larger quantity of carbon dioxide from the air than created in emissions — for example, direct air carbon capture or the use of biochar carbon sequestration to convert carbon dioxide into new valuable resources.
To catalyze decarbonization at an industry level and become a widespread practice requires a proactive and coordinated effort by implementing responsible sourcing standards, better management practices, and utilizing technologies to develop cleaner production processes. As companies learn to track their carbon footprint and mitigate with ways to reduce and offset their emissions, manufacturers need to work on becoming carbon negative by creating and using materials that are low in carbon. Instead of disparaging greenhouse gas emissions, the industry should regenerate carbon dioxide with a new purpose.
Mango Materials is a biotechnology company that creates renewable biopolymers. It is founded by a group of female entrepreneurial scientists and engineers who are global leaders in bio-manufacturing industry. Known for their proprietary technology in creating ‘nature’s plastic’, Mango Materials has created a carbon-negative PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymer from waste methane that is completely sustainable and closed-loop.
"The bioplastic created is an excellent source to create polymer and is highly applicable for any industry — in this case, spun into fiber to recreate polyester. At end-of-life, a biopolymer t-shirt or shoe can be biodegraded in up to seven weeks."
Broadly, Mango Materials is working to solve the problems of polluting plastics accumulating in the environment as well as the release of methane greenhouse gas emissions. By utilizing methane to create a valuable product, we provide an incentive for methane capture, thus turning what could otherwise be considered waste into a valuable product and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Our product, a naturally occurring biodegradable polymer, replaces conventional plastics that persist in the environment.
Mango Materials produces the biopolymer polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) from methane gas. PHA is unique in that it can replace most conventional plastics and can biodegrade in a wide variety of environments, from wastewater treatment plants to your backyard compost to marine waters. While there are other companies that also focused on the production of PHA, Mango Materials is unique in that we utilize methane, which is often considered a waste, as a feedstock to produce PHA. Using methane allows us to sequester a potent greenhouse gas and enables us to have a lower price point compared to other companies that utilize sugars as feedstock.
Mango Materials can drastically reduce the amount of waste created by the fashion industry. Our PHA biopolymer is used to make fibers that can be turned into clothing. PHA-based clothing can biodegrade at the end of its useful life, drastically reducing the waste generated by the fast fashion industry. Additionally, there has recently been a lot of concern surrounding microfiber shedding and pollution. By using PHA fiber instead of PET-polyester fiber, if shedding does occur, our material will be digested in local wastewater treatment plants and can enter the naturally occurring carbon cycle if improperly disposed of or discarded.
In addition to clothing, Mango Materials’ biopolymer can be used in the fashion industry in footwear, sunglasses, buttons, jewelry — basically anywhere you see conventional plastics.
Scaling production and achieving price parity with conventional alternatives is a challenge for any new technology. As we grow our business, our biggest challenge is scaling our process to meet the demands of our customers while also working towards driving down our prices to be competitive with conventional plastics.
“MANGO MATERIALS CAN DRASTICALLY REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF WASTE CREATED BY THE FASHION INDUSTRY. OUR PHA BIOPOLYMER IS USED TO MAKE FIBERS THAT CAN BE TURNED INTO CLOTHING.”
DyeCoo has revolutionized the textile dyeing industry with a completely waterless and process chemical-free solution. Repurposing carbon dioxide from existing industrial waste, DyeCoo can dye any fabric without water, saving up to 32 million liters of water and about 176 tons of processing chemicals per year. Through its proprietary machine, dye is added into the pressurized carbon dioxide tank and can permeate any fabric without additional chemicals or water, yet still creating vibrant colours. The dyed fabric comes out completely dried and does not require any water treatment or produce any wastewater. Short batch cycles, efficient dye use, no wastewater treatment all contribute to significantly reduced operating costs and is scalable at an industrial level.
Rubi Laboratories is a biotech company that turns carbon emissions into natural carbon-negative textiles through its cell-free enzymatic technology platform. Its textiles are akin to common fabrics used in the industry and are cost-competitive with the ability to scale for industrial production. Rubi’s textiles are estimated to remove two regular bathtubs equivalent of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Its patent-pending technology grows and processes plant fibers into natural textiles without water, land, and chemically-intensive procedures. Where typically viscose is derived from wood pulp, largely contributing to deforestation, Rubi captures carbon dioxide from manufacturing waste streams and converts captured carbon dioxide into cellulose to create viscose-based yarn. By utilizing enzymes as the catalyst, 100% of carbon dioxide input is created into the end product with zero waste and is fully biodegradable.
French startup Fairbrics creates carbon-negative synthetic fibers from carbon dioxide waste, and has developed an alternative that is able to produce polyester with the least environmental impact. Taking greenhouse gas emissions from industrial fumes, Fairbrics converts carbon dioxide into polyester fabric using molecular chemistry. The captured carbon dioxide is reacted with a catalyst and solvent to generate chemicals used for polyester synthesis. After polymerization, polyester pellets are created and spun into yarn to make a sustainable polyester fabric. The captured carbon dioxide from industrial waste is notably ten times less expensive than petroleum, a core ingredient in the making of polyester-based fabrics. It is estimated Fairbrics has an impact of reducing 720,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, equivalent to reducing the
emissions of 120 million polyester t-shirts.
LanzaTech specializes in renewable energy semiconductor manufacturing. By harnessing biology and big data, the company is able to convert waste carbon into usable fuel to create everyday items that would have otherwise come from virgin fossil resources. The platform converts greenhouse gases taken from industrial emissions, such as steel mills, and uses it as feedstock for microbes to turn pollution into fuels and chemicals. The bacteria converts carbon dioxide into ethanol, which is then used to supply manufacturing partners in creating other chemicals that would have normally been made from fossil fuels. LanzaTech leverages industrial emissions, whether gas or solid, to be reused, enabling a circular carbon economy and reducing overall carbon footprint. Applicable for many industries, so far its carbon-negative technology has proven to be scalable and has supported the creation of innovative materials and
Origin Materials is a biochemical company that has developed a patented technology for converting carbon found in biomass into useful, everyday materials. Its unique and disruptive technology substitutes chemistry with biology, creating recyclable 100% plant-based PET plastic using carbon instead of fossil fuel oil. Predominantly using sustainable wood residue, alongside agri-waste and old cardboard, Origin Material’s technology takes the sequestered carbon from the trees and plants as feedstock. In its process, it does not rely on expensive sugars or fermentation as it converts using chemical processes. Its end product is carbon-negative and can be applied to a wide range of end products, including clothing and textiles. Its PET products are chemically identical to those made from fossil fuels. Their solutions are costcompetitive with petroleum-based products and are recyclable, reducing the climate impact of products.
Newlight Technologies is a biotechnology company that replaces plastic by converting greenhouse gas into regenerative biomaterials. Dubbed the AirCarbon, the material is an alternative to synthetic materials and replaces petroleum-based polyesters. Every kilogram of AirCarbon produced takes 88 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Californiabased startup developed a biotech process that harnesses microorganisms found in the ocean
to convert greenhouse gas into carbon-negative material. By feeding pollutants such as methane gas and carbon dioxide to the microorganism, Newlight
takes its excretion waste to dry into pellets, which is then melted and molded into regenerative plastic. The carbon consumed by the microorganism is not
returned to the atmosphere, and finished products can be fully biodegradable. The company further uses blockchain to track, audit, and communicate its production process and environmental impact.