Materials

  • 24 September 2021

    Excess Materials Exchange

    Excess Materials Exchange – A dating site for materials  Who said only people can date? At our event Re-think Circular Economy Forum 2020 in Milan, Maayke Aimee Damen, presented Excess Materials Exchange, which she founded with the aim of creating a digital platform and marketplace where companies can exchange their excess materials or as she called it, a dating site for materials.   Maayke started her presentation by posing two questions: what percentage of products we buy ends up as waste within six months? What percentage of material value is lost after a single use? The answers are respectively 99% and 95%, much more than what most of the people would expect. In addition, the resource path trend is on the rise and it is projected to increase even further. At the same time, products on the market are becoming increasingly more complex. Moreover, estimations based on a forecast of materials for technology extracted, shows that there are not many resources left. While demand for resources and the complexity of the product are increasing, most of the European countries import raw materials. Focusing on the city of Amsterdam, the native land of Maayke, a great amount of materials is coming from countries outside Europe, as China and Russia. Due to the current situation, the economic and political tension is rising, so being independent on import is a risky choice. On the other hand, the recycling rates of these materials are very low.  Even though we have overexploited our resources and we are very dependent on other countries, concrete actions on this topic have not been made, and instead worldwide waste-rate is expected to grow with 75% in 2050. The ultimate goal would be reaching a 100% global circular economy, in which resources are infinitely cycled across different sectors without having a negative environmental impact, but at the moment the world is only 8.6%...
  • English What do a pencil and fashion have in common? Susanna Martucci, Founder Alisea – Perpetua and Alice Fortuna, Sustainability Communications Manager at WRAD Focus Design, explained to us – during our Re-think Circular Economy Forum 2020 in Milan – what it is and how it is possible. Susanna Martucci is an entrepreneur whose job is to extend the life of materials. She has always worked in sales and communication and after 12 years of experience in a large Italian company, in 1994 she founded her own: Alisea. She was in the business of creating promotional “gadgets” made in Italy. However, a little over a year, products made in China arrived on the market and competing became impossible because they had unbeatable prices and looked exactly as the products she was making. She was risking of going out of business and leaving 20 people unemployed.  One day of that same period she found herself in a bar where an acquaintance gave her a small notebook as a gift. When she opened it she read “no trees has been cut down for the production of this notebook”. This suddenly took her back to 1982 when she was on a train and by her side two university professors were having a conversation: “we are all sitting on a huge landfill, it’s a ticking bomb, a huge problem for future generations but also a great business opportunity for those who will be able to seize it”. However, in 1982, in Italy, nobody had a clue what household waste recycling actually meant.   Then, she asked herself: “Why don’t we give a new life to waste?“. Therefore, she started speaking to her clients’ marketing departments and asked to see the waste their companies were producing. Thanks to the production managers she could walk through their production processes and she could learn about the technical data sheets of the materials. This is the moment when at Alisea they realized how, through creativity, all waste could become the protagonist of a fascinating story to tell. In fact, it was 1996 and from that intuition Alisea found a unique collocation on the market, becoming the only operator in Italy that...
  • 2 August 2021

    Fili Pari: wearable marble

    English Is it possible to imagine the use of marble in the textile industry? Can marble be light? It sounds incredible, but Francesca Pievani and Alice Zantedeschi, Co-founders of Fili Pari, explained to us – during our Re-think Circular Economy Forum 2020 in Milan – how that can be done. Fili Pari is an innovative Start-Up focused on research and development of unconventional materials for the textile industry, respecting the territory and the environment. The Start-Up specializes in the development of cutting-edge technologies for the enhancement of marble powders. Fili Pari aims to contribute to protecting the land and valleys from the mountain’s dismemberment and encourage the use of by-products as a raw material. Fili Pari was born from the desire to create a new deep connection between the Italian territory and the textile industry. Fili Pari’s concept starts in fact from marble, a natural, typical element of the Italian territory. Since ancient times marble has been used in art, architecture, and represents a cultural, economic, and geological heritage, a symbol of uniqueness and timeless excellence. For instance, the Carrara marble is one of the most precious and luxurious marbles in the world.  Generally speaking, Italian marble is among the most valuable in the world and it represents a very important sector of Made in Italy. The Italian stone industry boasts the fifth position in the world ranking for processed marbles, with a share of 10%. The supply chain has more than 3,200 companies and 33,800 employees and reached in 2016 a production worth 3.9 billion euros, three-quarters of which is destined to foreign countries. However, marble was never used in the textile sector. Before Fili Pari, there was no connection or synergy between these two industries. In fashion, it was used as an aesthetic inspiration through prints that reproduce...
  • English version Cingomma is an Italian company that creates accessories such as belts, wallets, bags, and key chains, bringing to life tires, billboards, sails, neoprene, and fire hoses. Cingomma was born almost ten years ago in Turin from an idea of a small group of friends who decided they preferred a product whose creation was industrious and not industrial. The challenge they set themselves was to bring together passions, skills, and talents to create a product that would encapsulate the values and ethics of a group of people who chose to improve the world in which they live.  The guys at Cingomma like to define themselves as a creative reality and strongly believe that in order to be good ARTisans, it is necessary to be ARTists. Each product made by Cingomma is therefore unique, creative, handmade, green, and 100% made in Italy. How does it work? At the base of Cingomma is the desire to reinvent the consumption model that is dominant today, reusing products that only apparently have completed their life cycle but that can still be reused and revalued. Every year, in Italy alone, 380,000 tons of tires are disposed of. Cingomma chooses to recover this material, subjecting it to advanced cleaning treatments and transforming it into a beautiful, super-resistant, Italian, and above all unique clothing accessory! Each of the accessories made by Cingomma is characterized by the presence of a fabric label with a number that proves the uniqueness of the product. The numbering is curiously negative: the idea is in fact to show to those who buy an object made by Cingomma how much material has been diverted from landfills. Although bicycle tires and inner tubes are the basis of all Cingomma’s creations, the company loves to experiment and contaminate its products with other waste materials....
  • By Luca Bertolasi English Version Lac2Lab is a start-up currently under the constitution, whose project started in 2019. The team is made up of 4 co-founders, with different backgrounds: Paride Acierno and Luca Bertolasi for the economic-business area, Lorenzo Ippolito, and Arianna Palladini for the R&D and production area. Cell cultures are a laboratory technique that aims to reproduce biological phenomena through the growth of certain cell lines within laboratory slides, in a controlled artificial environment. The growth and proliferation of cells are guaranteed through nutrition, given by the FBS (Fetal Bovine Serum), which has various problems concerning the ethical, economic, and qualitative sphere. First, FBS is produced by killing bovine fetuses, and about 2 million of them are killed each year. Furthermore, the FBS has a considerable cost, and the cheaper variants are produced in South America, where herd control isn’t comparable to Italian standards. An ethical and sustainable product The purpose of Lac2Lab is therefore to place on the market a substitute product for FBS, totally ethical towards animals, obtained by reusing a material that would otherwise be wasted: cow’s milk. Indeed, approximately 116 million tons of milk and dairy products are wasted every year around the world. An in-depth analysis of the dairy market was conducted, in particular by examining the relationships between producer, distributor, and the final consumer. This analysis highlighted how to milk waste is an intrinsic problem in the supply chain. The Lac2Lab product is born from the requalification of expired or expiring cow’s milk, no longer destined for food consumption, to be used in Life Science technologies. This guarantees production based on a circular and sustainable economy. The whey, suitably transformed through original processes and replacing the FBS within the cell cultures, also reduces the distances between the additive manufacturer and users: the...
  • 1 January 2021

    KAFFEEFORM

    English Version Winter is coming and the cold weather with it as well which encourages all of us to look for something to keep us warm. For instance, a blanket, a jumper, a pair of soft and thick socks or a hot drink. Indeed, one of the most popular beverages in the world is coffee which, actually, has no seasonality anymore. Coffee has been consumed for over 1000 years now and around two billion cups are drunk everyday worldwide. This makes coffee the most consumed beverage and the second largest traded commodity after oil. According to the International Coffee Organization, Europe accounted for 34% of global coffee consumption in 2019, followed by Asia and Oceania, Latin America and North America. Therefore, the European Union has the world’s highest per capita consumption with 5kg of coffee per person per year, which is surprisingly high. The increasing production and consumption of this beverage comes with the consequent huge generation of spent coffee grounds left from coffee brewing. According to Solange et al., 6 million tons of spent coffee grounds are generated every year worldwide thus resulting in a great amount of unused organic waste. Spent coffee grounds are usually known and used for their natural and strong properties as fertilizer for gardens, plants and compost. However, over the last years numerous researchers and companies have been focusing on other possible ways to benefit from such waste. For instance, coffee residues can be exploited in pharmaceutical industry, in the food sector or in bio-refineries and for a variety of different products such as the coffee cups created by KAFFEEFORM. THE KAFFEEFORM STORY KAFFEEFORM was born in Berlin from the initial vision of creating something new and lasting out of supposed waste. It all started with Julian Lechner, product designer, who after years of...
  • 18 December 2020

    Circular Materials

    By Marco Capellini – CEO at MATREC English Version The article is based on Marco Capellini’s intervention at the second edition of Re-think-Circular Economy Forum last October 2020. Marco split his speech in 3 chapters. The first one, called “We can’t change what we can’t measure” is an extremely important topic that allows us to understand how the design of a product can measure the efficient use of resources. Why it is important to apply circularity measurement models? First of all, because circular economy must offer us tangible results in order to quantify the resources used; secondly, because it enables companies to define improvement strategies. Thirdly, to communicate clearly the results obtained, fourthly, to quantify the economic cycle of resources used in the input and output process. As Matrec, they are developing different projects to measure the circularity of the product: furniture, fashion services, food and others with particular attention to the type of material used. Generally they face 2 problems: many companies don’t know about circular economy business models and they think circular economy is just recycling waste; many companies don’t know how to apply the circular economy to product or services. For this reasons, Marco has designed a roadmap that let companies get a first view of circular economy and understand which KPI should be used for a metric definition. This roadmap could be an opportunity to understand the approaches to follow in a product circularity measurement project and choose the most coherent route to apply to products. The best solution would be consider all these aspects but this requires a lot of time and expenses. It is important to contextualize the product step by step, trying to improve the scope of measurement. For example it is possible to start with a qualitative approach and then move on...
  • 30 September 2020

    ZEROBARRACENTO

    English Version ZEROBARRACENTO is a gender-neutral zero-waste brand envisioning outerwear as a service. The fundamental values of the company are 0% waste and gender on the one side, and 100% traceability, transparency and inclusiveness on the other side. In addition, the hundred percent stand for 100% sustainability, an issue that has been at the core of the brand since the beginning. Following the product principles of the brand, the clothing lines need to be clean, essential and sourced locally. Therefore, the company is exclusively using materials coming from certified suppliers. To guarantee short transportation ways, every step of the design, product development and manufacturing takes place in Italy and factories are chosen in such a way that they are close to the place where the raw materials have been sourced. Moreover, the selected suppliers operate in the cities/regions which show the highest level of expertise in working with sustainable materials. For the organic and recycled wools, Biella and Prato have been chosen as supplier districts for instance. All material inputs are certified, of high quality and flow through a production/consumption chain that is circular. In addition, every product is self-complementary, designed to last and fully traceable throughout the value chain. One of the materials is Newlife™, a certified yarn, made from 100% post-consumer bottles. The patterns of the textiles are developed with a zero-waste design technique that eliminates textile waste at the design stage, an approach that contributes to reduce the use of natural resources. Usually, around 15% of textiles go wasted in the production process of fashion clothes. The technique involves eliminating waste by removing accessories (no buttons, no zippers, no hooks and eyes) and included the selvedge when sewing the garments. This way the final products are finished up with just a few seams. The packaging is made...
  • 4 September 2020

    ilVespaio

    English Version ilVespaio is a network of free-lance designers with a focus on ecodesign and sustainability. A team of creatives, researchers and educators promotes awareness on social and environmental issues, organizing workshops, events, contests and educational exhibitions with companies, local authorities, schools and families. Why ilVespaio? IlVespaio was founded by the graphic designer Stefano Castiglioni and the product designer Alessandro Garlandini in 2008, based on the idea of designing and producing promotional merchandise made of re-used production scraps and other materials. A circular promotional item unique and customized, instead than cheap junk imported from Asia. We called ourselves ilVespaio, the Italian word for wasp nest, because we were looking for a name from the natural world recalling movement, dynamism and creative chaos. Wasps are usually considered useless, annoying insects. However, they are very important for the ecosystem and for impollination, but, unlike bees, they proudly refuse to be tamed and don’t like to work for humans. They use attics to create their nests, instead! Our first project was a production of bags for the Provincia di Varese made of reused non-woven banners, reclaimed along the race route during the Varese World Championship Road Race 2008. Since then, we did many projects all sharing the same approach based on interactivity, playfulness, and care for design and graphics. The team has grown: designers Sebastiano Ercoli and Clara Giardina and videomaker Luca Orioli joined ilVespaio and other collaborators are helping us on specific projects. We strongly believe that citizens play a crucial role in the transition towards circular economy and that we need to focus on education especially of children and new generations. We have developed projects to raise awareness on environmental issues and to promote conscious behaviours. Every medium is strategic to convey messages that are important to us: exhibitions, outdoor events,...
  • 12 June 2020

    Greenrail

    English Version By Giovanni De Lisi – CEO & Co-Founder of Greenrail Giovanni De Lisi tells his experience in the field of railway infrastructures mentioning the startup Greenrail, that is responsible for creating eco-friendly sleepers made of plastic deriving from urban waste and rubber deriving from the recycling of end-of-life tires. The market where the company operates, was dominated by wood and concrete, with products that had been engineered in the early 1900s. In the world there are one million 700 thousand kilometers of railway lines currently in existence, of which 10% made of wood and the remaining 90% made of concrete. When he decided to start his start-up, De Lisi knew the reference market very well, having a family that deals with the assembly and installation of railway lines and in which he has worked directly for about 5 years. During this experience, he realized that the plastic sleepers, which were being developed at that time, could only be a substitute for 10% of the wooden infrastructures, and so the field of action was extremely limited. The idea was therefore to develop a product that could cover the remaining 90% of production with an environmental friendly material. The reference market for sleepers is a very large market. Just think that only the sleepers replaced for normal maintenance activities are 140 million per year. Beside the dimensions, De Lisi realized that the current dominant product, namely the concrete sleepers, had many limitations and, for this reason, he convinced himself to launch an alternative product that had better technical characteristics. As a startup, Greenrail had to undertake an uphill path: the sleepers mixture was realized in collaboration with the Polytechnic of Milan after 35 attempts. Initially, the mixture of thermoplastic material, obtained from about 50% from end-of-life tires and 50% from...
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