Materials

  • 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...
  • 18 May 2020

    Nlcomp

    English Version Monfalcone, Italy – Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of Northern Light Composites (nlcomp) project, an Italian startup born from the passion for the sea and sailing of the three founders – Fabio Bignolini, Chief Operations Officer, Piernicola Paoletti in the role of Chief Financial Officer, and Andrea Paduano, Chief Technical Officer. The company, which puts a lot of efforts in research and development of natural fibers and recycled materials for the construction of pleasure yachts, was created as a spinoff of Northern Light Sailing Team, a sailing association based in Trieste with notable results in international offshore regattas (among others, they won the ORC European Championship in 2016 and podium at ORC Worlds 2018). Their sailing skills merge perfectly with the know-how of ex-university students, already involved in the construction of sustainable skiffs within the 1001 Vela Cup, a challenge between universities from all over Italy. Given the emergency situation that Italy is experiencing, nlcomp has decided to make an online presentation for its first project: the construction of an eco-sustainable dinghy called “ecoPrimus”. The small ‘optimist-like’ boat, designed in 2016 by Hungarian designer David Bereczki for sailing schools and the first racing steps of young sailors, offers nlcomp team a great platform to work with: the design meets their requirements, the moulds are ready-made and immediately available. Their new dinghy proudly stands on the shoulders of its gigantically successful ancestor, the Optimist – while providing some modern new features and a new generation recycling concept.  The 2.42 meters long boat is 100% built with natural fibers, has a recycled core and a new type resin that allows the boat to be fully recycled. The concept is giving life to a brand-new circular economy in the nautical sector. Furthermore, the technology behind the project aims to solve...
  • 8 May 2020

    GS4C

    By Enrico Benco – CEO at GS4C English Version Enrico Benco begins his presentation by introducing the innovative SME GS4C which he co-founded in 2012. GS4C identifies itself as a supplier of sustainable solutions in the sector of composite materials, its mission is precisely to transform materials in order to recover them at the end of their life, validating and making prototypes of sustainable technologies that involve companies in case studies and projects. The GS4C Business Model is based on Open Innovation to support large companies in the manufacturing sector, in particular marine, wind and automotive. The technology and consultancy transfer of Sustainable Solutions in the composite materials sector, has led GS4C to become the touchstone in the sector both nationally and internationally. Loop Mini650 was the first project presented, a sailboat made of 100% recyclable materials that demonstrates the possibility of creating zero-dump composite materials. Loop will also be the first boat equipped with the H2Boat solution with Metal Hydride in a T-shaped keel capable of storing about 7 kWh of energy in the form of low pressure hydrogen, which can be used through a 300 W fuel cell. The sailboat operates in one of the most difficult environments for composite materials (with exposure to UV rays and salt water), besides to the requirements of lightness and mechanical stress, the structure must bear. The project will be a test bed and a promotional vehicle for technology. The fiber of which it is composed is the FilavaTM of the Belgian company Isomatex S.A. FilavaTM production is unique thanks to a genuine and innovative treatment of the raw material: basalt, which is enriched with various mineral additives to increase and guarantee its original mechanical and chemical properties. Among the other projects there is also the one with Enea: it is by B.AI.i,...
  • 20 March 2020

    Mogu

    By Stefano Babbini – CEO at Mogu English Version Mogu creates sustainable and innovative materials, mainly applied in the interior design sector, starting from the idea that it is possible to grow microorganisms, through a fungal fermentation, to structure materials that would otherwise not be consistent. Therefore, starting from these two elements, the fungal strains and the fibers, a line of products has been developed by optimizing the materials according to some process variables, as well as selecting the post-treatments to arrive at high-performance finished products.Mogu’s business model has evolved over time, leading the company to create a functional identity for its target market, interior design and green building. The pillars of Mogu, as shown in the following figure, are their basic technology (fungal fermentation), an approach particularly attentive to design, combined with a strong innovative component related to the bioeconomy sector.The sector where Mogu operates, is that of green building, which is growing at very significant rates, while the products it is targeting are precisely those of interior design, with a focus in particular towards the flooring and the acoustic sectors.The modular Mogu Floor flooring is positioned in a luxury and premium market segment for flooring; the product is the composition of two main elements: the soul made through fungal bio composites, according to a soft and flexible formulation, combined with a Bio PU in which biomass is drowned: this acts as a cover of the final product, generating a product that it is 98% bio-based. The added residual biomasses confer the specific pigmentation of the material, which thus has two upcycling components: the fibers recovered from the textile industry waste that are part of the core, and the filler that also characterizes the aesthetics of the product . This project was also financed by the European Commission through...
  • 6 March 2020

    Taller delle terre

    By Giacomo Losio – co-founder of Taller delle terre English Version Taller delle terre (TdT) is a non profit organization that aims to revolutionize the industry of ceramic setting up circular economy production processes. The problem TdT wants to face is connected with the idea of linear systems which are no longer sustainable for our finite planet seeing they are designed on the endless processes of extraction, production, distribution, consume and disposal (the Story of Stuff, 2007).In fact, looking at the interior design sector, both ceramic and stone production chains are responsible for such negative externalities in terms of natural resources exploitation, amount of waste sent to landfill, related environmental impacts and costs for disposal.According to Confindustria Ceramica, in Italy the ceramic market is worth 5,4 billion euro per year (2018) and about 4,572 operating quarries consumed more than 4,6 million cubic meters of soil (Legambiente, Rapporto Cave 2017).At the same time also the world stone industry is responsible for sending to landfill a big percentage of the extracted material, between 20 and 30, with an estimated operating cost about of approx. 30 euro per tonne (Knowledgshare, 2016).These two linear production chains have also considerable negative effects on the environment during all the production and consumption phases (transport, packaging and final disposal): high levels of energy and water consumption; waste production and CO2 emissions (Legambiente, Rapporto Cave 2016). As underlined by United Nation SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), territories need to implement sustainability within 2030: the waste of resources and money can be contained only through innovative solutions that can generate positive effects in terms of environmental, social and economic development.Considering that in 2018, the 9% from the Italian ceramic industry revenues has been invested in new sustainable productions and green technologies, TdT developed a solution that meets these needs. The...
  • 29 January 2020

    The incoming bioplastics

    By Giovanni Perotto – Engineer and Researcher at IIT English Version Giovanni Perotto, Engineer and Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, focused his speech on smart materials and bioplastics, presenting a very interesting speech on technologies developed to convert plant residues into bioplastics. In Europe in 2016, 55 million tons of vegetable waste was produced. This waste is unfortunately thrown, composted or incinerated, all solutions with low added value when not expensive.Perotto explained how in a simple carrot there are materials that nature has engineered for the function that the vegetable must carry out: growing, having a structure, working as long as it is needed and then being reintegrated into the environment once its use is over. The macromolecules inside the carrot like cellulose, pectin, lignin and hemicellulose, have the function of supporting the various parts of the vegetable.The focus of the research being carried out regards the ability to harness these properties to produce short-lived objects (single use, packaging) instead of using plastic. The aim is to obtain solutions to be used as an alternative to common plastic, making entire supply chains such as packaging and disposable plastic more sustainable from an environmental point of view. At the same time this will improve the economic sustainability of the food supply chain, turning all the plant biomass, that is currently being disposed, into a resource. These are the focus areas of his research at the Smart Materials laboratory of the Italian Institute of Technology: the development of technologies necessary to carry out this conversion and the work on vegetable waste materials in order to obtain a suitable performance and to facilitate the implementation of new Circular Economy systems.The goal is to convert what is available as a waste from the food industry, but to achieve this we need to...
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