Meet two of the innovative organizations making circular economy and biofabrication solutions mainstream.
The pioneering work of Suzanne Lee, founder of Biofabricate and a keynote at the 2020 Zero Waste Conference, as well as other early adopters in the field of bio-engineered materials continues to inspire entrepreneurs, scientists and brands worldwide to push the boundaries of design and manufacturing.
Canopy – Circular Economy Textiles
Vancouver-based non-profit Canopy works with the forest industry’s biggest customers and their suppliers to develop business solutions that protect the world’s forests.
Viscose and Rayon fabrics are made from cellulose fibres, commonly from wood pulp or other natural materials. Canopy focuses on finding alternative sources for these fibres to reduce demand for virgin wood. They have introduced commercially-viable circular economy solutions that involve using agricultural by-products, microbial cellulose grown on fermented food waste, and repurposed clothing as feedstock.
Retail Giant Partnership
Earlier this year, Amazon announced it was working with Canopy as part of a suite of sustainability initiatives for packaging, leather and clothing. Canopy’s work with Amazon currently focuses on viscose and rayon, with Amazon committing that by 2022, all of the company’s private label clothing will not include “rayon or viscose derived from ancient and endangered forests, or from endangered species’ habitats or other controversial sources.”
Is There Anything Mushrooms Can’t Do?
New York-based biotech company Ecovative continues to make waves with their innovative uses of mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, as a versatile material that can create everything from alternative meat products and animal-free leather to biodegradable packaging materials and furniture.
Just how powerful is mycelium? As Ecovative’s founder Eben Bayer, recently said in an interview:
“Our forests are biological cities that run on – and are connected by – a living, underground network of mycelium … It’s one of the greatest natural recyclers of material, breaking down old matter and turning it into nutrients that power the forest. This Super Material is a natural biodegradable product, with the remarkable ability to be easily and quickly grown into virtually any shape or form, with endless possibilities that could replace many of our current manufacturing and farming methods …
Ecovative is focused on earth-friendly product solutions for two major industries: plastics and animal agriculture.”
One of Ecovative’s spin-off companies, Atlast Food Co., promises “bacon without the oink,” and as Fast Company says:
“Atlast is founded on the idea that mushrooms, particularly varietals such as chicken of the woods and oyster mushrooms, have a similar cellular structure to meat and can be cultivated to mimic bacon, steaks, chicken breasts, and other whole cuts.”
Growing Possibilities in a New Paradigm
Canopy and Ecovative are just two companies embracing biofabrication – a suite of production methods that incorporates the best of science, agriculture, design, 3D printing, brewing and even gardening – uses microscopic organisms to reinvent the way we make everything from clothes to couches to buildings. It represents a new paradigm that can dramatically reduce environmental impacts of many industries.
As Suzanne Lee puts it,
“Once you realize that these materials are better for the planet, animals and us, why would we go back to the toxic, polluting materials of the past?”
We are pleased to welcome Canopy’s Valerie Langer, Fiber Solutions Strategist as well as Ecovative’s founder Eben Bayer as part of the Spotlight on Next Generation Materials panel.
2020 Zero Waste Conference:
Resiliency, Prosperity, Carbon Neutrality – The Circular Economy Solution
November 13, 2020