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Conservation X Labs’ $650,000 challenge aims to “harness planetary genius” to create solutions to replace plastic in textiles and textile manufacturing.
Washington, DC-based Conservation X Labs —
an innovation and technology company that spurs solutions to the extinction
crisis — has teamed up with a global coalition of partners to launch a
$650,000 innovation competition, dedicated to
solving our microplastic pollution problem.
Each year, Conservation X Labs hosts global competitions awarding cash prizes to
the best solutions for specific conservation problems. This year, the
Microfiber Innovation Challenge
aims to “harness planetary genius” to help halt the devastating
impacts of plastic microfiber
pollution on our waters and our environment.
Plastic microfiber pollution has infiltrated all of our living systems — it has
been found in the water we
the air we breathe and the food we eat. Studies have
that more than 83 percent of tap water worldwide is contaminated with
microplastics, and humans could be ingesting a credit card’s worth of
microplastics each week.
We have yet to understand the long-term impacts of this on our health, but we do
know that our clothes are a major culprit: 60 percent of clothing is made from
plastic-derived fibers including polyester, acrylic and nylon; and the clothes
into the environment with every wash.
The fashion industry has begun to mobilize to try and address the problem; but
so far, efforts remain siloed. One example is the recently announced
between direct-to-consumer sustainable apparel
brand PANGAIA and material science company Kintra
Fibers — the two are working together to develop industry-first compostable
fabric blends, which they intend to make available for use across different
industries in an effort to increase sustainability standards for synthetic
In the meantime, Conservation X Labs is aiming to crowdsource solutions to the
microfiber pollution problem via upstream sustainable solutions in textile
production and manufacturing.
“By harnessing planetary genius, we can allow conservation to operate at the
pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the
planet’s toughest environmental challenges,” says Alex Dehgan, co-founder of
Conservation X Labs.
Entrants have until June 25, 2021 to submit applications for innovations that
replace plastic-derived textiles with non-toxic, biodegradable alternatives
and/or develop improved textile manufacturing processes to decrease microfiber
shedding. Finalists will receive the support of an industry advisory panel to
guide the final presentations.
The Challenge is powered by the Flotilla Foundation and The Arthur Vining
Davis Foundation; and is supported by a global alliance of partners including
Canopy, Fashion for
Greenport Harbor Brewing
Innovation Initiative, The Microfibre Consortium, The Ocean Foundation
and Under Armour.
In addition to cash prizes, winners will have access to Under Armour’s
innovation team — which will help develop, test and refine the winning ideas;
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company will also name a new beer after the winner.
Learn more about the Microfiber Innovation Challenge here.
Published Jan 26, 2021 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET