The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, one of the world’s largest competitions in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship, awards major grants to “green” start-ups from around the world for their promising sustainable business plans. The winner will receive €500,000 to further develop the product or service, and to bring it to market. The runner-up will receive €200,000 and the three other finalists receive €100,000 each. An international jury selects the winner and runner-up.
Among this year’s five finalists are two textile-based solutions. AlgiKnit from the U.S. makes fibers from seaweed that can be spun into yarn. By using biomaterials, AlgiKnit offers a solution that could transform the textile industry into a circular economy. AlgiKnit is creating durable yet quickly degradable yarns made from organisms such as kelp, which is one of the fastest growing organisms on earth – up to 10 times faster than bamboo.
Grown in aquatic farms around the world in coastal communities, often by fishermen, it provides income during the fishing off-season. Kelp in coastal waters absorbs nutrients from agricultural and sewer run-off that can alter coastal environments. This recaptures nutrients for the next generation of biomaterials.
AlgiKnit’s production process has a minimal carbon footprint and fits into a closed loop life-cycle, utilizing materials that are non-toxic, and even safe to eat. When the material wears out, rather than adding to landfills, it becomes food for microorganisms and animals in the ocean and on land.
Reverse Recourses, a startup from Estonia, has built a software platform where clothing manufacturers can directly align their supply of waste textiles with textile recyclers. The volumes of wasted resources from garment production are often underestimated by retailers; on average 25 percent of material gets discarded from factories. Measuring and planning the integration of these resources back into the supply chain would give an opportunity for major growth within the textile industry while helping to reduce the use of virgin fibers.
Reverse Resources believes that virtual traceability of resources is the ultimate key to unlock the extensive business opportunity of a circular economy in the textile industry. The company provides a software solution for cooperation on closing the loop for wasted fabrics and fibers from garment production.
Also in the top five is AquaBattery from The Netherlands. This company has developed an energy storage system that uses only water and table salt instead of rare, and therefore expensive, raw materials.
The Great Bubble Barrier, a Dutch startup, has developed an air bubble screen for use on riverbeds that catches plastic before it arrives at sea.
LettUs Grow from the U.K. has developed an aeroponic method for growing crops by letting the roots hang in a dense, nutritious mist. This lowers water usage and CO2-emissions significantly compared to traditional agriculture.
The five finalists will attend the finals in Amsterdam in September, where they’ll pitch their business plans to an international jury, the press and the public. The Dutch Postcode Lottery started the competition in 2007.