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Growing textiles from algae

Swatches | December 1, 2021 | By:

Algaeing’s algae-based textiles are biodegradable, nontoxic and vegan. Photo: Tammy Bar Shay/Algaeing.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe recently announced that the global fashion industry accounts for as much as 10 percent of global carbon emissions and creates pollution and waste. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency says that only about 15 percent of textiles are recycled, while the rest are incinerated or sent to landfill.

Those numbers are concerning, but they may one day change if the products created by innovative startups take hold in the market—products like a biodegradable, nontoxic and low-energy textile created from algae. Algae, which includes seaweed, is already being used in other industries, including pharmaceuticals, food and even biofuel. Algaeing, the Israeli company behind the new textile, hopes to “harness the power of renewable algae to create a real, genuine impact against climate change,” said Renana Krebs, CEO and co-founder of the company. Its algae formula can be used to create natural fibers and dyes using less water than conventional products and producing zero waste and pollution.

The algae is supplied by another Israeli company, Algatech, and is grown in seawater in indoor “vertical farms” that run on solar energy, so it doesn’t need acres of land to produce. Krebs said that up to 713 gallons (2,700 liters) of freshwater is required to produce the cotton for a regular T-shirt, but Algaeing cuts that water use by as much as 80 percent.

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