The winners of the Global Change Award have been announced by the jury. This week, an online vote will take place to allocate the grant of €1 million.

The Global Change Award is an innovation challenge initiated by independent non-profit H&M Conscious Foundation. By submitting their “green, truly game-changing ideas” aspiring to close the loop for fashion, the 2,700 contestants have been hoping to be one of five to share a grant of €1 million to develop their innovation. In addition to funding, they will get support from the committee, as well as Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

Today, the five winners are announced. “The five inspiring winners of the Global Change Award stood out among the thousands of entries because they are inventive, innovative and scalable. Each have a roadmap to realize their vision using existing technology coupled with ‘out of the box’ solutions to close the loop for fashion”, says Ms. Amber Valletta, model, entrepreneur and a member of an impressive jury also including names such as Rebecca Earley, Franca Sozzani and Johan Rockström.

“The Global Change Award asked the world for bold ideas to make change. And that is what we received. In these five winners I see innovation that can lead to the possible solutions for a sustainable fashion future”, says Ms. Franca Sozzani, says Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia.

During this week, an online vote will take place for the global public to help allocate the total of  €1 million. Read about the nominated projects below, see videos about them here and then vote here!

The polyester digester

Using microbes to recycle waste polyester textile

A new type of microbe is being developed that eats waste polyester to create useful ingredients, which in turn can be used to produce new polyester without a loss in quality.

Polyester is the world’s most common fibre for making textiles and clothes and today it is difficult to recycle waste textile polyester effectively, since it is often mixed with other fibres. These unique microbes eat polyester and break it down into its most basic substances. The raw material can then be sold to polyester manufacturers that use them to produce new textiles. This process also works on textiles where polyester and, for example, cotton is mixed as well as dyed polyester. It enables new polyester to be created, without losing any quality, which is more cost-effective than producing polyester from the raw material petroleum. Producers can therefore produce 100% recycled polyester at a lower cost.

The method is currently under development, and partnering with a producer, a manufacturer and an early-adopter brand will be the next step in the process to start a pilot project.

Growing textile fibre under water

Utilizing algae to make renewable textile

Algae are organic sea-organisms that, when picked out of coastal regions, gives the opportunity to create a new type of raw material to produce renewable textile.

Many materials that are currently used in fashion leave some kind of environmental footprint. Algae, on the other hand, can grow in oceans, lakes and waterways, and does not require fresh water; it does not need land or water that could be used for growing food. Additionally, the excess of algae that would otherwise clog lakes and entire oceans could potentially be used to make textiles instead. Creating an alternative raw material for textiles and clothes out of algae also reduces the need to transport textiles, as it can be taken from coastal regions around the globe and is not tied to a specific region.

Developing this process and sharing the knowledge around the world in an open source scenario will help making this process into a viable alternative way of producing raw material for textiles.

Making waste-cotton new

Conversion of waste-cotton into new textile

A new technology that dissolves textile waste allows for waste cotton to be used as raw material in the production of new textiles, without loss in quality.

As the world population grows so does the demand for consumer goods which in the end cause textile waste. A new technology is being developed that uses an environmentally friendly solvent to dissolve the cotton in textile waste in order to create entirely new textiles. Gathering textile waste is already becoming an established code, and this technology creates the possibility to spin new cotton-like textile fibres from the waste. This reduces landfill waste and saves natural resources, improving the environmental impact on both ends of the value chain.

At the moment, cotton and similar textiles need very little pre-treatment before entering the process. The next stage is to develop a pre-treatment process to separate different types of fabric to convert them into new, high-quality fibres.

An online market for textile leftovers

A marketplace for industrial upcycling of spill in production

A global online marketplace is being developed to collect and process textile spill data, in real time, from manufacturers directly to designers and into the design process of new clothes.

10-15% out of the materials used in textile production ends up as spill. This new platform is a software tool for garment manufacturers that gathers real-time data on waste inventory tied to the production processes. It then connects producers and manufacturers with designers to get textile leftovers into production and into the design process instead of it reaching the point where it becomes waste. This helps brands and designers think more environmentally friendly – making sustainable clothes from someone else’s waste.

A prototype is currently being developed. The next phase includes developing the product and establishing cooperation with brands and manufacturers to fully test the product before scaling up.

100 percent citrus

Creating new textile out of citrus juice production by-products

There is an increasing demand for sustainable textiles. Using by-products from citrus juice production, instead of growing a dedicated crop, creates an opportunity to produce more sustainable textiles. The yarn produced from the by-products can be used to create different types of textiles and addresses the demand for high quality sustainable textiles. Since the process uses resources and materials already produced it improves the environmental impact related to industrial waste, while extracting a raw material fitting for spinning new yarn.

The first industrial prototypes have been developed, and research and further development is now needed to begin replicating the process in other regions around the world where citrus juice is being produced.

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