This company is using plants to make handbags, shoes and clothes

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Illinois start-up Natural Fiber Welding says making clothes, shoes and furniture from plants is the future.
  • New fibre ‘welding’ techniques can make natural fibres as strong and durable as synthetic alternatives.
  • NFW is one of 17 companies in The Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2021.
  • Your next handbag or pair of shoes could have a lot more in common with your garden or local park in the future thanks to new fabrics being created using the power of plants.

    An Illinois-based start-up is using new techniques and natural fibers to create durable and sustainable materials that can be used in everything from handbags, clothing, and footwear to car interiors.

    Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) is using plants to create sustainable materials and yarns such as plant leather. Its aim is to move the materials industry away from petroleum-derived products and a single-use approach.

    The company has also developed a process to strengthen recycled cotton by ‘welding’ short fibers into longer fibers using natural molecular bonding. This reduces damage to the fabric and means garments last longer.

    “Making our clothes, shoes, furniture, and automobiles from plants grown by regenerative agriculture is the future,” said NFW founder and chief executive Dr Luke Haverhals.

    Plastic-free

    The fashion and fabric industries have typically relied on plastic-based synthetic materials to create long-lasting goods. For example, many leather alternatives currently available use synthetics and oil-based products like polyurethane.

    NFW says its technology enables natural fibers like cotton, flax, silk, wool, and other renewable resources to deliver the same performance from 100% natural sources.

    The business is one of 17 companies in The Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2021, an initiative to help circular economy entrepreneurs scale their innovations.

    The six-month remote programme, led by Accenture in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s UpLink platform, Anglo American, Ecolab and Schneider Electric, includes expert circular economy workshops, coaching modules, mentoring, networking opportunities, investor engagement and accelerator team support.

    From linear to circular

    NFW’s processes also support a more circular approach in the materials sector, which can typically be wasteful.

    The circular economy is about moving from a linear “take-make-waste” use of the world’s resources to a more circular and sustainable “reduce-redesign-reuse” approach. This involves designing out waste and pollution, keeping materials in productive use and allowing the earth’s resources to recover. sustainability

    What is the World Economic Forum doing about the circular economy?

    The World Economic Forum has created a series of initiatives to promote circularity.

    1. Scale360° Playbook was designed to build lasting ecosystems for the circular economy and help solutions scale.

    Its unique hub-based approach – launched this September – is designed to prioritize circular innovation while fostering communities that allow innovators from around the world to share ideas and solutions. Emerging innovators from around the world can connect and work together ideas and solutions through the UpLink, the Forum’s open innovation platform.

    Discover how the Scale360° Playbook can drive circular innovation in your community.

    Connect to Learn More →

    2. A new Circular Cars Initiative (CCI) embodies an ambition for a more circular automotive industry. It represents a coalition of more than 60 automakers, suppliers, research institutions, NGOs and international organizations committed to realizing this near-term ambition.

    CCI has recently released a new series of circularity “roadmaps”, developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), McKinsey & Co. and Accenture Strategy. These reports explain the specifics of this new circular transition.

    Connect to Learn More

    3. The World Economic Forum’s Accelerating Digital Traceability for Sustainable Production initiative brings together manufacturers, suppliers, consumers and regulators to jointly establish solutions and provide a supporting ecosystem to increase supply chain visibility and accelerate sustainability and circularity across manufacturing and production sectors.

    Connect to Learn More →

    Around 50% of the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions result from the extraction and processing of natural resources, with demand for raw materials under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario predicted to double by 2050.

    UpLink is a crowdsourcing platform for innovations launched by the World Economic Forum at Davos 2020 in partnership with Deloitte and Salesforce.

    The platform hopes to elevate solutions that accelerate the delivery of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include achieving good health and wellbeing for all, sustainable cities and communities and zero hunger by 2030.

    the sting Milestones

    Featured Stings

    Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

    These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

    How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

    Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

    Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

    The revenge of the fallen

    Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

    This Syrian national has been trapped at Kuala Lumpur airport for 3 months

    European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

    Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

    Learning lessons from across Europe – the hidden costs of COVID-19 on lung cancer

    Eliminating gender based bias in medicine: the role of medical students

    MEPs propose more transparent legislative drafting and use of allowances

    Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

    Parliament adopts deal to improve quality of tap water and reduce plastic litter

    Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

    5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

    Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

    Iceland’s slowdown underlines the need to fix structural issues

    Wirecard: MEPs call for new audit rules, protection for whistle-blowers and EU supervision

    Why salaries could finally be on the way up

    Estonia: use robust growth to improve income equality and well-being

    More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

    EU prolongs economic sanctions on Russia by six months

    New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

    Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness

    We are witnessing a revolution in genomics – and it’s only just begun

    Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

    COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

    Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe

    More funding needed to combat locust swarms ‘unprecedented in modern times’

    Global warming: our responsibility

    Beware the fragility of the global economy

    Commission provides 20 cities with funding for innovative security, digital, environmental and inclusion projects

    WHO and UNICEF in campaign to protect 1.6 million in Sudan from cholera

    Falling inflation urges ECB to introduce growth measures today

    Why are the financial markets shivering again?

    ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ clean-up project launches trial run: UN Environment

    EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

    European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

    EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

    Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

    ‘Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’

    MWC 2016 LIVE: Qualcomm looks to pick up Hamilton’s winning ways

    EP and EU ministers agree on Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027

    My experience living with depression and schizophrenia in Thailand

    Building cybersecurity capacity through benchmarking: the Global Cybersecurity Index

    3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

    First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

    Philanthropy must face a reckoning on race in 2021

    New UN finance panel to push Global Goals forward

    Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

    Commission reinforces tools to ensure Europe’s interests in international trade

    EU mobilises emergency assistance for Croatia in the aftermath of devastating earthquake

    Commission concludes that an Excessive Deficit Procedure is no longer warranted for Italy at this stage

    Better ID card security to curb document fraud

    Can we automate our way out of the savings crisis?

    5 lessons for the future of universities

    Things are bad and getting worse for South Africa. Or are they?

    This is why AI has a gender problem

    Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

    The world must pull together to stem the urgent crisis in our ocean

    Alice in Colombia

    The recipe for creativity involves a lot of ideas, and a short break

    More Stings?

    Advertising

    Speak your Mind Here

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s