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Intesa Sanpaolo host circular economy startup event

This week Intesa Sanpaolo’s London Hub hosted startups pitching on everything from open source vehicle platforms to edible packaging and blockchain-powered supply chains, as investors and business leaders convened for the first circular economy startup event.

The StartUP initiative is a long-running programme from the Italian banking group, providing a platform for collaboration and investment in innovative businesses that are developing new technologies or practices.

This 94th edition of the StartUP Initiative was unique in that it was the first to focus on the circular economy. As such, the eight businesses pitching during the day showcased an innovative product or business model that could support the transition to an economy that is regenerative and restorative by design.

Desolenator, one of the startups pitching on the day
Desolenator, one of the startups pitching on the day

Intesa Sanpaolo have placed themselves as pioneers from the financial sector in helping to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The banking group is the first and only from its sector to become a Global Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and this level of ambition was echoed by Chief Innovation Officer Maurizio Montagnese who opened the day. Montagnese stated that fostering circular economy innovation is part of Intesa Sanpaolo’s “commitment towards monitoring the great trends that will change our economy and our society in the not so distant future.”

Panel discussions set the context for the day, featuring representatives from the World Economic Forum, European Investment Bank, London Waste and Recycling Board, PA Consulting, Circularity Capital, The Circular Way, PGGM and Intesa Sanpaolo.

The vibrant pitch session featured startups from the mobility, built environment and fast moving consumer goods sectors, among others.

Intesa Sanpaolo StartUP Initiative

Bid to Trip, the first auction platform that allows travellers bid for and win unsold luxury travel packages from around the world

Desolenator, uses solar energy to purify water from any source, including sea water

ECOR, a strong, versatile, and sustainable alternative to materials such as wood, composites, aluminium and plastic, obtained from recycled cellulose fibre

OSVehicle, the first hardware open source platform for the production of vehicles

Ooho, edible drinking water container made of seaweed

Personal Factory, retail production of powdered construction materials in less than 6 square metres

Provenance, an app that helps businesses test the traceability and transparency of their distribution chain

Stuffstr, an app that provides information on the places where items can be reused or recycled.

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‘Advance London’ launches to help SMEs capitalise on the circular economy

The London Waste and Recycling (LWARB) has launched a new programme to support SMEs in adopting new circular economy business models called Advance London. 

Opening in January 2017, Advance London will provide free advice and practical help to SMEs based in London, who are working in the circular economy space. It’ll work with small businesses and entrepreneurs to identify emerging opportunities and to develop demonstrations of the value that can be unlocked through a circular economy. The programme will work closely within LWARB’s programme of activities, including hosting a series of events and workshops, and working with existing circular enterprises to enable further growth and improve competitiveness. Wayne Hubbard, chief operating officer of LWARB, was recently quoted:

“London is host to several circular economy leaders. The nature of the circular economy requires collaboration throughout the supply chain and changes the way businesses interact with consumers. As more and more businesses ‘go circular’ new opportunities will emerge for SMEs to bring innovative solutions to overcome the challenges that businesses face in this transition. We want London to be a world leader in nurturing circular economy businesses.”

The European Regional Development Fund and LWARB will jointly fund the three-year programme, which will support LWARB’s wider investment initiatives dedicated to supporting SME’s within the circular economy.

Source: Advance London: Helping SMEs to capitalise on circular economy

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Is this the end of “subjects” in Finnish schools?

Widely regarded as one of the best education systems in the world, Finland’s authorities are not resting on that status after announcing their intention to remove “subjects” from the school curriculum altogether. 

Explaining the changes, the head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, Majo Kyllonen said:

“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century.”

It has been reported that classes such as physics, maths, literature, history, geography and more could be removed from the teaching syllabus by 2020. They’ll be replaced by inter-disciplinary learning that focuses on phenomena and events. All kinds of themes, skills and subjects can be touched upon during the study of World War II, for example, while a course like “Working in a Cafe”, could bring out knowledge around English language, maths, communication skills and much more.

Despite consistently featuring in the top 10 in various international rankings, it’s clear that the Finnish educational authorities recognise that they have been succeeding in a system that doesn’t fit the needs of 21st century learners.

The proposal represents a radical shift in the way things are taught and will initially be introduced for older students, beginning at age 16. Choice will be offered in terms of the topics and phenomena that each student believes they should be taught about, while the traditional model of pupils sitting behind desks is also set to be removed and replaced by small group discussions dominating classroom time.

Changes will also impact teachers, reportedly around 70% of teachers in Helsinki have already undertaken preparatory work to meet the needs of the new system. The training and related pay increases represent a significant investment from the Finnish government.

 

This could represent a significant shift in education and it’ll be interesting to see how the international community reacts. The changes strongly resonate with the thoughts of many leading education experts including reknowned creativity expert, author and TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson. To understand some of the thinking about these kinds of changing further, watch this Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF) headliner video.

Exploring an Education Fit For the 21st Century

Source: Finland Will Become the First Country in the World to Get Rid of All School Subjects

Lead image sourced from Pixabay

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Why vertical farming is more than just growing indoors

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Check out this session right now at the Disruptive Innovation Festival

As part of Circulate’s collaboration with the Disruptive Innovation Festival, we’re featuring insight from some of this year’s Open Mic contributors in advance of their performance at the DIF. Find out more at thinkdif.co, and don’t forget to catch up on this session with a panel of vertical farming experts. 

Feeding urban populations is especially challenging in a linear system. We need to grow food as close as we can to the people who need it. Instead of transporting foods from every corner of the earth, we need to grow food directly in the cities and create more local economies based on necessity. Where we do that can vary: from a vacant lot, a rooftop, in a greenhouse, or even inside of a building.

Farming indoors has its fans and its critics, but it becomes a practicality as the populations of cities increases. Many people are thinking into the future for what food production hubs should look like for sustainable cities of the future.

vertical farming

Could we be on the verge of creating hybrid forms of food production? Can the indoor farmer and the bio-nutrient farmer find common ground? Will Allen is a key figure in knowing how to farm for the future. His revolutionary ways as an urban grower demonstrate the brilliance of a closed-loop system. His organisation, Growing Power, based out of Milwaukee, WI, has implemented greenhouses with stacked functions. The bottom level is an aquaponics system, which feeds the fish poop to the plants’ roots, then circulates back to the fish tank as clean water. It is not just about growing indoors, it is about creating a closed loop that reuses and eliminates waste.

Let’s think bigger. It’s also about incorporating alternative energy instead of fossil fuels wherever possible into the indoor growing system. In Suwan, South Korea there is a three-story 450 metre squared building that the Rural Development Agency is utilising for vertical farming. They have sourced nearly 50% of their heating, cooling and artificial lighting requirements to renewable resources, such as geothermal and solar power. More experimental models like this one are urgently needed.

Permaculture enthusiasts would say, “the problem is the solution.” Where does the potential for growing indoors lie? Could empty warehouses and abandoned buildings be repurposed as mushroom farms? Can sustainable energy be a bigger part of the closed loop? As crazy as it may sound, can harvesting insects provide a new source of protein and reduce the demand for factory-farmed meat? How we grow, what we grow, and where we grow will be shaped by the innovators of today.

Visit thinkdif.co to find out more about the Disruptive Innovation Festival. Don’t forget to create My DIF account to build your own schedule, get session recommendations based on your interests, and 30 days of bonus catch up time after the DIF has ended.

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Circulate on Fridays: Exploring circular economy in depth, growing animal products and more!

In this weekend’s special Circulate on Fridays, and as part of our collaboration with the Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF), we are showcasing three select DIF events on Circulate. As always, we want to know what you think, let us know on our About page or in the comment space below. 

What Goes Around…

A circular economy is not a new idea, rather it is a term that has gone from relative obscurity only five years ago, to one which any serious CEO now has on their radar.  Understanding the concept is one thing; implementing a framework which requires whole systems change is quite another. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Joss Bleriot, Ken Webster and Ella Jamsin discussed the evolution of the concept and how business and governments are beginning to take it on.

The Crucial Role of SMEs

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy. In Europe alone, 99% of all businesses are SMEs and in the past five years, they have been responsible for the creation of approximately 85% of all new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. Given the transformative role they play, how can they be best supported in the transition to a circular economy?

The analysis shows us that business decisions to transition towards circular business models are likely to realise both short- and long-term benefits, thus fostering business competitiveness and resilience in the long run. However, making the transition or bringing scale to new business initiatives can be challenging. In this session, members of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) are joined by SMEs the Restart Project and Snact.

Are Animal Products Without Animals the Future of Food?

How can we feed a rapidly growing population sustainably? The emerging science of cellular agriculture is looking into the possibility of growing products like meat, milk, eggs, and leather through biotechnology rather than sourcing them from animals. New Harvest is the research institute accelerating breakthroughs in this area. In this Q&A session, Daan Luining (Research Strategist) and Erin Kim (Communications Director) explained how the open source scientific research that their organisation funds and conducts is leading the way towards bringing cultured meat from lab benches to store shelves.

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Joining forces: Genetic Engineering meets 3D Printing

 

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Don’t forget to hear Chris at DIF 2016 – click to find out more

As part of Circulate’s collaboration with the Disruptive Innovation Festival, we’re featuring insight from some of this year’s Open Mic contributors in advance of their performance at the DIF. Find out more at thinkdif.co, and don’t forget to tune into this session with Chris Forman. Chris will release a video on this subject on 18th November at 6pm GMT, and will host a live Q&A on 23rd November at 4pm GMT

Biology is the unparalleled master of additive manufacturing. Observing the formation of biomaterials, like wood or bone, allows biologists and material scientists to see what would be physically possible if we employed complex, multi-component feedstocks and non-equilibrium processes in our own additive manufacturing. Furthermore, while biomimicry of such hierarchical materials would undoubtedly increase the complexity and sophistication of our products, that is only part of the benefit.

The capabilities of biology extend well beyond organising materials. Ecosystems can also regenerate feedstocks, like soil or air, and employ a myriad of microscopic organisms to do so. A single handful of soil contains millions of microbes. In fact, if any single organism’s food is not replenished by the ecosystem the organism dies. The result is a closed network of organisms that is able to sustain itself. The inability to regenerate our feedstocks is an incredibly important issue; such a capability would solve so many other problems. Climate change, pollution, deforestation, inequality are all linked to this problem.

But what would such bioinspired additive technology look like, and how would it work? Could it replace our farms or even our factories?

As land pressure increases there are few places for economies to expand. Outer space is one option and the ocean floor is another. A third and less obvious route to new real estate is to reduce the size of our factories to the size of biological cells, and spread them out! In the same way that a jar of pebbles can accommodate additional sand and a jar of sand can accommodate additional water, shrinking our factories to the cellular level could make better use of the nooks and crannies of urban dwellings. By shrinking to the cellular level we literally increase the catalytic surface area available for processing chemical feedstocks. As Feynman said “There’s plenty of room at the bottom”. Combining Feynman’s notion with Smith’s  “Land, Labour and Capital” leaves us pretty much only one option.

However, as well as providing access to the untapped real estate in the walls of our houses – and possibly even direct solar energy transduction — the real magic of biological systems arises from DNA itself, which is a convenient digital handle that biology exploits to solve the feedstock regeneration problem. DNA encodes the instructions to build enzymes which are able to catalyse almost any chemistry allowing each organism to break down the waste streams of other organisms into food. By tweaking the digital information stored in the DNA of many creatures, biology is able to program feedstock regeneration into an ecosystem.

Taking that concept to the nth degree, what if we could digitally dial up any chemical from a barrel of feedstock in the basement, as easily as we could dial up a picture from the internet?  And what would happen when such sophisticated feedstocks were fed into a 3D Printer?

The Carbon 3D Printer
The Carbon 3D Printer

Perhaps the most exciting advance in 3D printing in recent years is CLIP, invented by Carbon3D, which allows a solid object to be pulled from a reservoir of liquid feedstock. Such a marvel is achieved by carefully controlling the chemistry of the solidification process. Oxygen diffuses into the system at the same time as a 2D laser image is projected onto it. Where there is both oxygen and light the monomers cross link to form a solid, which you can pull out of the liquid. Get the flow rates just right, and new liquid solidifies onto the bottom of the retracting solid structure, which can have almost any geometry you please.

The secret to advanced additive manufacturing is control over chemistry, which is precisely what enzymes do for biology. Consequently, in the future, the ability to digitally generate sophisticated feedstocks – possibly containing enzymes – might enable advanced forms of additive manufacturing in which we can spatially control the chemistry of an additive process. Perhaps we could develop structures akin to bone or wood but optimised for technological rather than biological applications using precisely the same materials and processes as biology.

Pulling all these remarkable ideas together we notice an incredible thing. Industry is currently building the ability to control feedstocks and assembly processes using digital information. Synthetic biology combined with additive manufacturing yields total digital control over the materials around us, from the molecular to the planetary, and this is precisely the tool we need to help us regenerate the natural reservoirs around us.

The marginal cost of changing DNA is tiny and allows big changes in feedstock or assembly to occur with relatively little effort. If the uptake of such technology expanded geometrically, the way computers have done, perhaps, in concert with natural biology, we would easily be able to control the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere in short order.

Indeed, companies like Organovo in San Diego have begun exploring the crossover between additive manufacturing and biology by printing out cells using 3D printers to generate replacement or pharmaceutical testing tissues such as livers, hearts and other organs. Other companies like Ecovative are producing materials using fungi, Modern Meadow is creating synthetic leather, Bolthreads is targeting synthetic silk and the list continues to grow!

Ecovative are finding new applications for their mycelium based material.
Ecovative are finding new applications for their mycelium based material

Perhaps synthetic biology can evolve into areas with entirely novel technological applications. What if our house-factory-farm could possess a synthetic kidney? May be we could filter useful molecules from waste water and pipe it back to where it’s needed?  Shampoo for example? Biocidal soap would never be released to the ecosystem and we could eliminate the packaging, transport, palm oil, and crude oil feedstocks associated with shampoo – and many other chemicals besides.

Indeed there is an economic incentive to take part in such a network of waste sharing companies. If a company used materials that could not be sourced from other companies, or dialled up from the basement, then the company would have to maintain the entire supply chain for the material itself.  

There is a danger though. If such a commercial circular economy did not replenish natural feedstocks to support life on Earth, then economics would succeed in replacing biology with an entirely orthogonal materials ecosystem and who knows if the resulting environment will be capable of supporting biological life at all? We are not free to choose just any circular economy. We must choose one that is compatible with biology.

Building synthetic biology into the foundation of our materials reprocessing system does more than digitise feedstock production and enhance the possibilities of additive manufacturing. It also strategically guarantees that our global economic system has a vested interest in maintaining the environment so it is appropriate for biology. Genetic engineering, far from destroying the environment, could well be the saving grace that allows us to unite industry and ecology, thus preserving the environment for biological systems, while adding economic value as a by-product.

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Policy shift opportunities for a circular economy?

A new report prepared for the European Commission has pointed out opportunities for actions around policy and regulatory actions that could help to enable and unlock the growth potential of a circular economy. 

The study, pulled together as part of the EU’s action on circular economy, points out gaps in legal frameworks and identified regulatory obstacles, which could be slowing Europe’s transition to a circular economy.

 

Barriers were grouped under three main themes, including:

– Lack of clarity around legislation in terms of waste stream collections, in particular with issues around mixed waste.

– Challenges around secondary materials, both in terms of cost versus raw materials and perceptions around quality of products.

– The study identified the need for enforceable product requirements around key points including design for reuse, repair and recycling.

While phrased as “barriers” that need to be resolved, these policy gaps also represent regional and national circular economy opportunities for businesses and governments to collaborate around.

Source: Report Identifies Regulatory Barriers To The Circular Economy

Full report

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8 materials innovation case studies you haven’t heard of yet

Hear Renewal Workshop's plans to reinvent fashion at the DIF 2016, on 11th November at 18:00 GMT.
Hear Purva Chawla speak at the DIF at 12:00 GMT on 16th November

As part of Circulate’s collaboration with the Disruptive Innovation Festival, we’re featuring insight from some of this year’s Open Mic contributors in advance of their performance at the DIF. Find out more at thinkdif.co, and don’t forget to tune into this session on materials innovation, live at 12:00 GMT on November 16th.

Reuse. Recycle.

These familiar words have trailed behind designers for several years now, tagging their work, as they sought a suitable response to the rising mountains of waste and our shrinking resources.

Today, though, these words are no longer a mantra for designers; nor do they capture the quiet but powerful movement taking over many realms of physical design.

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Image: Micaella Pedros

Artists, architects, product, and textile designers–makers of all kinds, really–have moved far beyond the acts of ‘recycle’ and ‘reuse.’ The most innovative work in the many fields of design is coming from makers who are entirely breaking down society’s waste and the scraps of industrial production, and transforming them into their material components.

What follows is an almost scientific extraction of all viable elements, and their conversion into entirely new and aesthetically promising raw material for design.

This isn’t the easy path, especially when shiny swarms of catalogued and shelved materials are more easily available, often at a lower price.

Still, the ‘reconstitution’ of what the world is regularly discarding, and its ‘rematerialisation’ into innovative, new materials and exhilarating products is drawing in more and more designers today. From pristinely white, webbed stools made from Nylon powder (and SLS 3D printing waste); to velvety, handmade bricks made from a cocktail of construction and demolition waste; to beautiful organic-looking art, crafted from thousands of reformed Starbucks coffee cup lids– the list of examples is endless.

Increasingly donning the hats of researcher and scientist, alongside that of the designer, today’s makers are releasing new products from lab-like studios and testing grounds. These finessed products have evolved well past the gruff, homegrown quality we had come to associate with recycled goods; and most can rival any industrially produced products in their cohort.

So what is this movement really?

For starters, it is the creation of a new material (and product) vocabulary, born from the complete transformation of waste. No longer content with just regurgitating what is within reach, designers have taken innovation into their own hands, and it all begins with the materials that they work with.

And from our perspective, this material innovation seems to be contemporary design’s best stepping stone to the circular economy.

Here are our top picks for products, processes, and their makers, that are leading the way in this movement of material innovation.

1) WasteBasedBricks / StoneCycling

Netherlands-based design and manufacturing company StoneCycling crunches and blends construction, demolition, and building manufacturing waste into beautiful hand-made bricks. The bricks all sport natural-looking hues, textures and are appropriately named–Aubergine, Nougat, Truffle, and Caramel, among others.

The sustainable and versatile bricks are making their way to prominent building facades and interiors in the Netherlands, while their base material (made of reconstituted waste) has been transformed into a new collection of furniture as well.

2) Hot Wire Extensions / Studio Ilio

Partnering with 3D printing companies, whose largest and rapidly growing waste product is Nylon powder, London-based designer duo Studio Ilio have created a series of webbed stools, lights, and miscellaneous products. Their only ingredients–waste Nylon powder, sand, and electrically charged Nichrome wire. ‘Hot Wire Extensions’ represents the studio’s signature investigation into conventional manufacturing processes, and their intent to challenge material-uses. Also, key to this innovative practice and the project, are the cross-disciplinary partnerships between designers and diverse manufacturers.

3) From inorganic to organic – braiding, melting and warping plastic / Mariana Nelson

California artist Mariana Nelson has developed specialised techniques to metamorphose discarded yarn and plastics (including Type-6 plastics, which cannot be recycled) into exquisite art. By braiding, melting, warping, and heat-pressing multiple layers of plastics, Nelson consumes nearly 100 percent of the massive amount of discarded material she sources.

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Image: Mariana Nelson

A recent commission for the ‘Festival of the Arts’ in Laguna Beach involved the creation of a large, growing, organic ‘fungus’ on a tree, engineered by Nelson from warped and treated Starbucks coffee-lids.

4) Textile from pineapple waste / Piñatex by Ananas Anam

Evolved from seven years of R&D in the Philippines, UK and Spain, Piñatex™, developed by sustainable materials manufacturer Ananas Anam,  is a natural and sustainable non-woven textile, produced from the fibres of pineapple leaves. The pineapple leaves are a by-product of the pineapple harvest.

Designers all over the world are beginning to tap into Piñatex for their products and fashion accessories. While some designers have been quick to term Piñatex as a leather substitute, many others keen to explore Piñatex in a long-term way and unlock its material potential far beyond this.

5) Co-cultivating with living technology / Faber Futures

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Image: Natsai Chieza

Operating within the realm of biodesign is UK-based designer and researcher Natsai Audrey Chieza’s practice Faber Futures. Among Faber Futures’ key projects is ‘Fold’–an experiment in assigning colour and pattern to textiles by placing them inside a small petri dish full of living, pigment-producing bacteria. Unlike other research and production entities, the goal here is not to harvest pigment from bacteria and to dye fabrics in conventional ways. Instead, the intent is to co-cultivate with bacteria–to intervene actively in its processes and arrive at new possibilities of desired pigments, and then direct the bacteria to attach themselves to fabric, producing results naturally and intuitively.

The results are extremely attractive, sustainable, and en route to becoming scalable for larger industry production.

6) Joining Bottles / Micaella Pedros:

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Image: Micaella Pedros

With her ‘Joining Bottles’ project and toolkit, London-based designer Micaella Pedros turns discarded plastic bottles into joinery, and wood scraps into eclectic compositions. Using heat, and a technique of indentation into wood scraps, extremely sturdy, usable and harmonious results have been created from Micaella’s practice, which developed during her work and volunteering experiences in Uganda and Guatemala.

7) Cardboard Architect / Fold Theory – Tobias Horrocks

Australian architect Tobias Horrocks has created an architectural and furniture design practice that relies exclusively on the strength, ease of assembly, disassembly and eventual return to composting, of materials such as cardboard and Xanita-x-board, which are made from post-consumer recycled waste.

The architect achieves structural strength and nuanced forms using digital design and fabrication, all with this bio-degradable material (cardboard), and pairs the material with temporal uses, with the end of life in mind. His only aspiration? Waterproof cardboard.

8) From DIY to GIY (Grow it Yourself) / Ecovative

Biomaterials company Ecovative has gone one step further than ‘DIY,’ with its range of Mushroom Materials. With agricultural waste, Mushroom mycelium and well, time, as its only ingredients, designers can grow their own sustainable material, using Ecovative’s toolkit, and orient it to flexible uses. Designers and artists such as Danielle Trofe and Erin Smith are using the GIY material to create lighting, homeware products, sculpture and more.

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6 minutes to explain circular economy? This video is a good start

The circular economy is a new way of thinking that often goes against the grain of traditional business. Explaining the concept and getting people on board can be tough, but a new film from Ed Scott-Clarke might be your best bet. Circular Cellular, made as part of Dell’s Legacy of Good programme, offers a six-minute intro to the circular economy with a smartphone as the focus, and input from Fairphone and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

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Reinventing fashion with Renewal Workshop

As part of Circulate’s is collaboration with the Disruptive Innovation Festival, we’re featuring insight from some of this year’s Open Mic contributors in advance of their performance at the DIF. Find out more at thinkdif.co, and don’t forget to tune into this session live at 18:00 GMT on November 11th.

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Hear Renewal Workshop’s plans to reinvent fashion at the DIF 2016, on 11th November at 18:00 GMT.

The problem in the fashion industry isn’t fashion itself: it’s the harmful impact of creating that fashion and the waste generated when that fashion is landfilled instead of circulated indefinitely.

So for those of you who love clothes there is hope. We don’t have to fear fashion as an ugly bad habit, but something that can be reinvented through innovation and dedication.

What if the clothes we wore improved the lives of the people who made them and the environment in which they were produced? What if when we were done with our clothes they continued to live long and full lives with others until one day they were turned into new resources?

Fashion is going through a transformative change right now. More than ever before, brands, customers and the media are highlighting the problems and solutions the industry is grappling with. Ever since the 1990’s the stories of human rights abuses have been brought to light, and each year apparel companies are attacked for those abuses. Now environmental and animal welfare issues are included in those stories. The more transparent the supply chain gets, the more customers are demanding to know “who made my clothes”. Campaigns like Fashion Revolution drive continued attention to the subject. This is a good thing.The more each of us learn about the issue and what we can do to update our buying behaviors to promote better supply chain practices, the more the industry will shift.

As the options for buying more ethical clothing increases, the attention is also moving towards the amount of clothing we buy and what do we do with our clothes when we are done with them. Currently Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980. That’s a lot of clothes.

trw-label

Trying to fix the apparel industry is more than a daunting task. It is a systemic change that needs to happen. But it isn’t quite as scary when you look at it through a circular economy lens. In fact, looking at it through this lens creates a beautiful, simplistic path for design, production and use of a product. Now we have to integrate that beautiful simplicity into an archaic industry. Luckily there are many working on this, slowly creating solutions that patched together will produce an incredible web of change. Designing differently is already happening as companies start to create products that can actually get recycled. The Cradle to Cradle’s Fashion Positive program is creating a library of Cradle to Cradle materials. Apparel brands are creating systems for collection and processing, and recycling technologies are evolving from ideas to implementable solutions.

The Renewal Workshop fits into this new model well, providing brands and retailers the infrastructure and manufacturing ability to create a new model of business. One where clothing is assessed at its highest utility and kept there. All the resources that went into making a dress in the first place should be conserved and maintained. The renewal process does this assessment and identifies clothing that through cleaning and repair are resold again to a certified standard. While higher priced items like cars and electronics have a history of strong used sales channels, we are now in a time where other products can begin exploring this. 

Fashion is a statement of who we are. We make conscious choices every day about what to wear. Some of that based on function, and some of it is a statement of our personalities. The need and interest to wear clothing is not going away,  so new innovations need to happen to ensure that there is an industry to provide us these clothes.

The way we make clothes is one part, the next part is the care and thought about how we use the clothes made, then we must innovate what we do with those clothes when we are done.  While we might get bored of a piece of clothing, the clothing itself might not be done and so with an investment in circular systems we will ensure the value of those products are able to live on.  

Visit thinkdif.co to find out more about the Disruptive Innovation Festival. Don’t forget to create My DIF account to build your own schedule, get session recommendations based on your interests, and 30 days of bonus catch up time after the DIF has ended.

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