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The Startups aiming to create a sustainable fashion industry.

The textile industry is one of the biggest global polluters, consuming high levels of water, fuel, and chemicals for washing, bleaching and dyeing fabrics. The industry expels untreated effluents into water systems, toxic gasses into our skies and discards textile and yarn scraps and one-use plastic packaging.
As consumers, we demand sustainability in many aspects of our lives, and this demand is now increasingly requested within the fashion industry. 

Photo by Pixabay

In contradiction to this desire to produce little waste, in general, people tend to own a garment for a year or two and then dispose of it to buy something new. We have a disposable culture when it comes to fashion. 
We cannot hope to change the consumer appetite, but we can look at ways to reduce the impact this behaviour has on our world.

Textiles have changed little in a lifetime. Now, there are people out there looking to adapt materials for modern-day requirements. Fabrics don't need to last as long as they did. Rarely does anyone repair a garment. So modern sustainable fabrics have been created that, although they aren't as hard-wearing as the polycotton, polyester, cotton, wool, and leather materials we are used to, this doesn't matter anymore. After a few years of use, they can be buried and composted.

The current textile dyes used to colour all fabrics use a considerable amount of water, fuel and chemicals. They are highly toxic and, when entering our water system, ultimately enter our food system. Bad news, considering the number of carcinogens contained within.
The good news is that sustainable alternatives for these dyes are in production. With funding and global industrial support, it's looking possible that this continued pollution could be significantly reduced in our lifetime and ultimately stopped sometime in our children's future. 

Here are three Startups that are working diligently towards this sustainability goal.

  • NEFFA create sustainable products made from mushroom roots.
  • CircularSystems™, transform left-overs from food and medicine crops into scalable high-value natural fibre fashion products.
  • PILI, create bio-based dyes and pigments.

Further details are below:

MycoTEX®, by Utrecht(NL)-based NEFFA offers an award-winning, all-in-one solution for brands. They create custom-fit products out of sustainable, vegan textiles made from mycelium (mushroom roots).

A MycoTEX dress. 
Photo courtesy of NEFFA

NEFFA believe they have the potential to serve the throw-away consumer fashion market sustainably by using MycoTEX.

MycoTEX's manufacturing method solves several major issues in the fashion, interior and automotive industry:

    • There is no need for farmland or its seasonal influences, as MycoTEX is grown in a Laboratory.
    • No chemicals or pesticides are required in it's development.
    • With the shorter supply chain, MycoTEX limits transport.
    • MycoTEX replaces plastics and leathers with compostable materials. 
    • Reduces the cost, waste, and labour-intensity of cut & sew operations

NEFFA has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 777441. They have also been granted European funding of KET4CP to take the first steps in scaling up of MycoTEX.

" A very innovative idea for textile fabrication avoiding many of the wasteful steps of traditional methods. It is quite clear the company has the necessary resources to take the technology to market."

They are due to officially launch their improved, sustainable and flexible material this year (2021).


LA(USA)-based, CircularSystems™ processes left-overs from various food and medicine crops, including oilseed hemp/flax, CBD hemp, banana, and pineapple into a textile-grade fibre called Agraloop™ BioFibre™. 

They are a materials science company focused on the development of innovative circular and regenerative technologies, transforming waste into valuable fiber, yarn, and textile fabrics for the fashion industry.

With their waste-to-fiber platforms Texloop™ and Agraloop™, combined with their proprietary Orbital™  Hybrid Yarn technology, they offer breakthrough solutions for the most efficient management of textile and agricultural waste streams.

See here for a video with additional information.

The Agraloop™ future BioRefinery is modular, low-CAPEX, and designed to be deployed globally to serve local communities and industries.
CircularSystems welcome international brands, manufacturers, farmers, NGOs, and other interested collaborators to inquire and learn more about how they can be a part of the solution.

Contact CircularSystem here.


Founded in 2015, Paris(France)-based PILI is the leading company developing bio-based dyes and pigments. Its unique fermentation and sustainable chemistry processes enable the production of high performance and environmentally friendly colours.

Its technology can eliminate the use of petroleum and polluting chemicals currently involved in the production of colours in textile, plastic, paint and ink sectors.

Announced on March 21st 2021, PILI will start industrialising the first bio-based pigments for paints and inks with a new 4 million euros ($4,7 M) financing round - bringing the total amount invested since its creation to 10 million euros ($12 M). 

PILI's historical investors (including SOSV, Elaia and seasoned entrepreneurs), a German Business Angel network, are funding the industrialisation phase. They also benefit from the French Recovery Plan, which aims to relocate strategic industrial activities while respecting the Paris Agreement.

Photo courtesy of PILI

PILI is on track to become the world leader in bio-based dyes, with a strategic alliance between biology and sustainable chemistry.
This new funding will help scale up the production of bio-based pigments and test them in industrial ink and paint formulations.

These products will considerably reduce the environmental footprint of these applications. By using local renewable raw materials (the French territory being rich in biomass - straw, oil, molasses), these processes will make it possible to:

  • significantly reduce the colour industry's CO2 emissions and use of fossil fuels (oil, coal) globally.
  • reduce the strong dependence of several industrial sectors on Asian imports while recreating a European supply.

PILI will start to send textile dyestuff samples in 2022 for customer qualification tests.

"Thanks to the talented members of our team, we put biology and process engineering at the service of the creation of a wide range of dyes without petrochemicals or pesticides.
We can thus meet the massive demand for ecological dyes in fields as diverse as textiles, inks and bioplastics. PILI can become a major player in this bioproduction revolution." Jérémie Blache, co-founder and president of PILI