Innovation That Matters

The first design is both coloured and scented with cinnamon | Photo source Balena

Compostable footwear helps the fashion industry ditch plastic

Fashion & Beauty

The new material can be integrated into existing manufacturing processes easily

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Spotted: The environmental dangers of fast fashion are certainly well-known. But some brands appear to be moving towards an even faster, cheaper cycle of production. After years of pressure by campaigners, however, governments are beginning to put in place policies for minimum sustainability standards that companies must meet for textile production and use. Until recently, landfill and incineration were the most common methods of disposing of excess or unwanted textiles. Now, however, innovators are building circularity into production by considering the necessity for end-of-life processes from the very beginning. 

One recent example is the introduction by material science company Balena of its compostable thermoplastic BioCir. Usable in 3D printing and injection moulding, the plastic is versatile, flexible, and strong, making it applicable to a range of fashion products, including footwear. Balena’s first product, a pair of biodegradable plastic slides, sold out.  

Part of the company’s proof-of-concept included setting up a product take-back process. Multiple drop sites make it easy for consumers to responsibly dispose of any unwanted items, and the company then breaks them down in an industrial compost facility. BioCir is available in commercial production volumes, making it easy for brands to scale production of new, sustainable products – without the hassle of needing to buy and install alternative machines.   

Biodegradable plastics are an important improvement, yet too few are easily recycled, leading innovators to continue pushing for improvements. Recent updates spotted by Springwise include sneakers that are made from 97 per cent natural ingredients, and a food preservative made from passion fruit peels.

Written By: Keely Khoury



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