Fiber-eating enzymes make your clothes like new

Charlie Taylor

On Wednesday, the 2022 winner of the innovation competition Global change award, initiated by the H&M Foundation, will be chosen. Among the winners is Biorestore, a washing solution developed to restore worn garments to new condition. “This greatly reduces a garment’s environmental impact,” says CEO Wajahat Hussain. Published: 5 April 2022, 21:38On a table in front Wajahat Hussain and Rickard Toon at the Biorestore are wearing a cotton sweater split in the middle. One side represents the garment after a period of use, disfigured by everyday wear and machine washing. The other side has been treated with Biorestore’s bio-based washing solution and there the garment looks completely new. “Garments that get worn out are thrown away far too soon, which contributes to a lot of pollution. Biorestore makes it possible to restore garments to new condition and prevents unnecessary fashion waste “, says Wajahat Hussain, who is CEO. He met Richard Toon at the fashion company Gant, where they united in an interest in sustainability. Wajahat Hussain had been looking for a way to extend the life of his clothes for a number of years. Eventually he found a combination of enzymes that “eat up” the fibers that end up on top of garments when they are worn and leave the rest of the garment intact. “When Wajahat showed me the effect, I got chills. We both understood that this had the potential to become something big “, says Richard Toon, creative director. Biorestore is currently working on garments of cotton or cotton blend. The duo sees great opportunities for the product, including in the growing second-hand segment. But above all, they are aimed at consumers, as Biorestore can be used at home in the washing machine. The company has now been selected by an international panel of experts as one of five winners in the Global change awards (GCA), an annual innovation competition initiated by the Persson family H&M Foundation 2015. The winners will share a grant of 1 million euros and have access to a an annual accelerator program that H&M Foundation is behind together with Accenture, KTH and The Mills. ”We address a global problem and this gain enables us to spread Biorestore much more widely. We get greater visibility and credibility. That’s a big deal for us, ”says Richard Toon. What are you going to use the money for?
“More employees and marketing, to make sure this product reaches as many people as possible,” says Wajahat Hussain.In addition to extending the life of clothing, what are the environmental benefits of Biorestore?
“To produce new garments, a lot of electricity and water is needed. To make a new t-shirt, for example, requires about 2,500 liters of water, while 10 liters is enough to restore the garment. So the result with Biorestore is that garments’ environmental impact is greatly reduced “, says Wajahat Hussain. Since the GCA was launched seven years ago, it has received over 20,000 grants from 200 countries. Clara Brook at H&M Foundation says that the contributions have gradually become more qualitative. “But right from the start, the winning entries have been marked by the brilliant teams behind them. I think this is fantastic with this competition – it highlights people from all corners of the world, who share a drive to change the fashion industry for the better “, she continues. The prize money will go to more employees and marketing according to Wajahat Hussain.The prize money will go to more employees and marketing according to Wajahat Hussain. Photo: Jesper FriskThis year’s winning innovations is characterized by the fact that they are based on what the H&M Foundation and other partners call “planet-positive” ideas. “This means that they are not only based on circular solutions, but that there is also a potential that the innovations will contribute to a transformation of the industry, in such a way that it actually improves the planet’s resources,” says Clara Brook. With all the sustainability challenges that the fashion industry has, can one talk about it being able to be “planet positive”?
“As we see it, that’s where we need to aim. It is necessary for us to be able to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals in Agenda 2030. It is a high goal, but we see it as our role as a foundation to dare to challenge the fashion industry. ”How big is the will in the fashion industry to really embrace sustainable innovations?
“I feel that very many fashion companies want to implement such. However, our winning contributions are at a very early stage and there is a big gap until they are ready for the industry. That is why it is incredibly important that the fashion industry bears the costs and support for this type of innovation, in order to speed up the transition. ”Biorestore restores old clothes to new condition with the help of fiber-eating enzymes according to the creators.Biorestore restores old clothes to new condition with the help of fiber-eating enzymes according to the creators. Photo: Jesper Frisk

This year’s winner of the Global change award:

Biorestore (Sweden) – a washing solution that restores old and worn garments to new condition.■ Biopuff from Saltyco (UK) – a sustainable alternative to goose down, made from plants that restore damaged lands.■ Cottonace from Wadhwani AI (India) – an AI system that reduces the use of pesticides, increases yields and increases the income of smallholder growers of cotton.■ Re: lastane (China) – The first mild process that makes elastane and polyester blend fabrics recyclable.■ Rubi (USA) – “Planet positive” viscose and lyocell made from carbon dioxide emissions.
Amanda Törner

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