The ORTA Biodesign Challenge program partners university and high school students with artists, designers and biologists to reimagine biotechnology. ORTA, a sustainable denim manufacturer, headquartered in Turkey, awarded its Prize for Bio-Inspired Textile Processes to a team of Australian students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, RMIT University.
The students developed Enzer, a water filtration and treatment system. The filter can be retrofitted to washing machines to tackle the issue of microplastics released in the washing cycle by polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers. The filter introduces an enzyme that breaks down the microfibers that contain microplastics.
Microplastics are a growing global problem. According to a 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature report, about 35 percent of the microplastics that enter the ocean are derived from synthetic textiles. About 60 percent of clothing today contains polyester, due to its cost-effectiveness and performance capabilities that meet today’s athleisure lifestyle, the release stated.
ORTA Prize finalists from the Fashion Institute of Technology developed technology to harvest from discarded oyster shells connective elastin tissue that could replace elastane fiber.
ORTA’s aim is to create a more robust denim ecosystem where design meets technology meets ethics for infinite possibilities for denim.