Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Phycolabs

Turning seaweed into clothing

Fashion & Beauty

One startup is hoping to replace conventional textile materials with its sustainable seaweed alternative

Spotted: The textile industry is recognised as one of the most polluting. This is due to manufacturing methods that often require lots of water, energy, and harmful chemicals, and the sector as a whole generates 8-10 per cent of global carbon emissions. But now, one fashion tech startup is harnessing the power of seaweed to create cleaner and more sustainable fashion. 

After being frustrated with how harmful the fashion industry can be, Phycolab founder, Thamires Pontes, turned to the potential of seaweed – both as a crop that boosts marine ecosystems while it grows and as a greener material for textiles. The startup is developing natural-based textile fibres derived from macroalgae, called PhycoFiber, to replace existing polluting materials.  

Notably, seaweed does not require arable land, pesticides, or insecticides, and the plant absorbs more carbon than terrestrial forests, while also helping to de-acidify and re-oxygenate the ocean. Phycolab also promotes seaweed cultivation as a promising alternative for creating job opportunities in coastal communities; particularly in areas that have been overfished, seaweed farming offers more stable and sustainable employment. 

In June this year, Phycolabs was selected as one of the winners of H&M’s Global Change Award. Upon finalising its prototype, the company is looking to test the product with interested players both in Brazil and internationally to prove its viability. 

Seaweed has proven to be an effective solution in helping various industries cut their carbon footprints. Springwise has spotted many ways the plant is being used, like in home interiors and as a methane-reducing livestock feed.

Written By: Anam Alam and Matilda Cox



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