Materials

  • 16 September 2022

    Cirplus: making plastic waste history

    How creating a global marketplace for plastic recylates make plastic waste a thing of the past In 2018, cirplus’ journey began off the unlikely coast of Colombia. After building and scaling BlaBlaCar Germany – today’s largest ridesharing platform in the world – co-founder, Christian Schiller took himself on a well-deserved break. His idea was a beautiful trip around the world, sailing from coast to coast through the Caribbean to Colombia and Panama. However, on the open sea, he didn’t just have to consider the dark depths of the ocean and the irregular weather caused by global warming, he was face-to-face with a problem of magnitude – a hundred meters long dense carpets of plastic waste. Shocked, yet determined, Christian knew he had to do something to tackle this crisis. With co-founder, Volkan Bilici, web technologies veteran and blockchain expert, the idea of cirplus was born. The ambition of the founders was to create a global marketplace for circular plastics and take on the impressive task of making plastic waste history. Cirplus is the world’s-first global AI-enabled marketplace for circular plastics. Its software simplifies the currently complex trade of recyclates and plastic waste by digitalizing the complex, and largely offline, transactions of plastic waste feedstock, regrind and regranulates. Created for companies in the plastic and recycling value chain, cirplus mission is to build a platform for finding, negotiating, contracting, shipping, insuring, and paying for recyclates and plastic waste trades across the globe – a solution to the world’s plastic waste crisis. Its digital procurement platform connects waste managers, recyclers, and product manufacturers to buy and sell plastic recyclates in a reliable and cost-effective way. Using its software, it brings high-quality recyclates back into the supply chain at a lower transactional cost by using AI-enabled smart matching of supply and demand based on volumes, quality and price. Over time, AI...
  • 9 February 2022

    TriporousTM: what is it?

    During our Re-think Circular Economy Forum held in Milan in October 2020, Seiichiro Tabata, Triporous Technology Leader at Sony, explained to us about Triporous a brand new porous carbon material Seiichiro and his team developed from rice husks, and during his presentation he explained what it is and how it can contribute to social issues. What is Triporous? In 1991, Sony commercialized lithium-ion batteries for the first time in the world. Triporous was developed in the process of exploring new electrode carbon materials for lithium-ion batteries. In the project, they were looking for a biomass containing silica as a raw material. They had a lot of knowledge about procedure of artificial high-performance porous carbon for battery derived from resin/silica nano material. That is why, they decided to focus on rice husk as a raw material. Taking a look to the manufacturing scheme of Triporous from rice husk it is important to highlight that large part of rice husk, about 20% of the total weight, is silica. Therefore, they have to carbonize the rice husk, and then, etch the carbonaceous material off silica by a basic solution. Then, the porous carbon gets activated by steam, and finally, results in the generation of three kinds of pores. By the way sodium silicate generated from this silica removal process and they recently used it to develop a new functional material called “Zeolite”. Triporous has not only mesopore but also unique large macropore. Conventional activated carbons does not show large pore structure as Triporous does. Conventional activated carbon mainly consists of micropore below 2 nm. However, Triporous has 3 kinds of pore, micropore, mesopore and macropore and this is why they named it “Triporous”. When looking at Triporous it is visible the presence of larger “macro” and “meso” pores which in typical activated carbon,...
  • 3 February 2022

    Mixcycling: a CE real-life example

    The startup from Vicenza recovers organic residues to nobilitate them and give them new life. Mixcycling blends are materials that carry an important message of sustainability, calling for a more virtuous use of resources. What is Mixcycling? Mixcycling Srl is an innovative startup that creates sustainable biocomposites by recovering organic scrap fibers and combining them with polymer bases (carriers) which can be biobased, recycled, virgin, biodegradable, or biodegradable and compostable. Born at the start of 2020, it is a young, dynamic company but with a long history behind it: it originates from a 50 year-old closures producer with a strong background in cork processing and injection moulding. It was from the necessity of recovering a valuable scrap like cork that the Mixcycling® concept was born. Proprio dalla necessità di recuperare uno scarto di valore come il sughero è sorto il concept. Since the startup was established in 2020, new fibers have joined the cork-based blends, like rice husk, miscanthus, marc and numerous other, which the company constantly researches and tests. The Triangular Economy Mixcycling blends are materials that carry an important message of sustainability, calling for a more virtuous use of resources. The blends’ production process itself, which involves nobilitating scraps, is an example of this message, articulated in the concept of Triangular Economy. Introduced by Mixcycling in early 2020, it is meant to complete and add to the popular concept of Circular Economy. Born in contrast to the more ‘traditional’ idea of a linear economy, where a product is made, used, and thrown away, the circular economy model advocates for a better use of resources, so after being consumed the product is recovered or parts of it are recycled and are put back into the production process. Mixcycling has made this concept even more virtuous and has produced the...
  • 30 December 2021

    Bi-rex: from waste to resource

    In occasione dell’evento Re-think Circular Economy Forum organizzato a Taranto il 28 e 29 Settembre 2021, abbiamo deciso di organizzare ed ospitare anche un Innovation Call focalizzata su tre macro temi: gestione ambientale, porti circolari e transizione energetica e mobilità sostenibile.  L’Innovation Call era indirizzata a startup del territorio nazionale che promuovessero e proponessero soluzioni innovative e circolari nei tre settori sopra citati. Diverse sono state le realtà che sono state selezionate, ma solo una è risultata vincitrice assoluta: Bi-rex dall’ambito di gestione ambientale.  Bi-rex è una startup fondata da Greta Colombo Dugoni, CEO e R&D Manager, e Monica Ferro, Project Manager, con l’obiettivo di creare un nuovo modello economico che sia in grado di recuperare prodotti ad alto valore da biomasse che derivano da lavorazioni agro-industriali.  In particolare, la loro ricerca e il loro prodotto si focalizza sulla creazione e produzione di cellulosa proveniente da fonti alternative, questo perché come la cellulosa è un naturale biopolimero lo è anche, ad esempio, la chitina che è uno dei principali componenti dell’esoscheletro dei gamberetti e non solo. L’idea è quindi che non siano solo le piante, ca 200 milioni di tonnellate annualmente nel mondo, a fornire la cellulosa, ma anche gli scarti, in cui in molti casi è presente e che solitamente sono considerati senza valore e dimenticabili in impianti di compostaggio o, peggio, in discariche. Bi-rex si concentra in particolare sulla chitina derivante dai gamberi e dai granchi, in quanto sono ca 6-8 milioni di tonnellate i crostacei allevati annualmente nel mondo e da cui si può recuperare valore.  Attraverso i loro test, le ricercatrici hanno riconosciuto il valore dei rifiuti delle biomasse dal settore agri-food, che possono avere molti svantaggi se mantenuti in un sistema economico lineare: viene sprecata la risorsa di cellulosa presente in essi, le industrie del settore deve pagare...
  • 26 October 2021

    Earthshot London Prize

    Nowadays, there are many possibilities to get awarded, recognised and supported for sustainable ideas, projects and businesses.   One of the most recently created global environmental prizes is the ‘Earthshot London Prize’, founded and currently run by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge until the initiative becomes its own entity by the end of this year.  The Prize, whose first edition was held in 2021, was designed to incentivise and support change and to adjust our planet over the next 10 years. In order to do so, they decided to focus on five of the so-called ‘Earthshots’ – global goals – which aim at transforming our system in a more sustainable and equal one for now and tomorrow.   For each of these Earthshot challenge, institutions, cities, companies, startups, organizations can propose a protection-oriented solution and who will propose the best one receive a global platform and prestigious profile with their stories to be illustrated over the ten years to anyone interested in order to have mass adoption, replication and scaling of them.   Moreover, each winner will get £1 million in prize money to support environmental and conservation projects agreed with them.  The Earthshots challenges are the following:  Protect & Restore Nature: species all over the world are facing extinction or have been threatened by men because of improper ways of production, consumption and disposal; Build a waste-free world: the actual economic system is characterised by a logic of easily throwing away what we own and use, without properly considering whether they can be reused, repurposed or recycled; Clean our air: a lot of people breathe toxic air on a daily basis and this provokes numerous deaths that could actually be prevented by introducing 100% renewable energy for everyone, removing pollution caused by human activities and much more; Revive our oceans: life underwater is extremely at risk...
  • 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...
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