Stella McCartney, Protein Evolution Launch The World’s First Garment Made Using Biological Recycling
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Protein Evolution’s Biopure™ technology uses AI-designed enzymes to produce the raw materials of polyester from plastic waste – not petroleum
Protein Evolution, Inc., a biological recycling company working to decarbonize plastic production, unveiled the world’s first garment produced using their Biopure™ technology at COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The parka, designed by Protein Evolution investor and brand partner Stella McCartney, is made from rigid packaging waste and industrial textile strappings – formerly used to secure international freight containers – processed by Biopure.
“Today marks a pivotal moment in the move towards textile-to-textile circularity in the fashion industry,” said Connor Lynn, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Protein Evolution. “Not only is this coat validation for the utility and quality of biorecycled polyester – specifically polyester chips created using Biopure – it also offers companies an alternative to the landfill or incinerator for their fabrics, extending the life of their materials indefinitely.”
Protein Evolution’s Biopure technology leverages AI-designed enzymes to break down polyester waste into the raw materials of new polyester that are indistinguishable to the petroleum-derived raw materials used in polyester manufacturing today. Once these raw materials are re-integrated into the manufacturing process, the result is an infinitely recyclable polyester with a meaningfully lower carbon footprint than polyester produced from petroleum. Biopure is capable of handling a variety of waste streams, from plastic bottles and clam-shells, to industrial textiles and garments.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I hate waste, which is why I am so thrilled about our collaboration with Protein Evolution,” said Stella McCartney. “Through my SOS Fund, we were among the first to invest in their pioneering biological recycling technology; one that has the potential and power to transform the world’s plastic waste into infinitely recyclable polyester. Over the last year, Protein Evolution has taken unused fabrics from my past collections to test and prove their textile-to-textile circular process. This allowed my atelier to design and create the beautiful, airy parachute parkas made from biologically recycled polyester that you can see today at our Sustainable Market at COP28.”
The pioneering parka will be in soft natural tones and reference parachute styles that have appeared throughout the British brand’s collections, blending sustainable and sport attitudes. The coat serves as a proof of concept that highlights a new innovation for textile-to-textile circularity and will be on display at COP28 at the Stella McCartney sustainable fashion exhibit through December 12, 2023.
To create the parka, Protein Evolution transformed rigid packaging and industrial textile waste into textile-grade polyester – highlighting the versatility of the company’s Biopure technology. Working with partners in the EU, the polyester was then spun into yarn and woven into new fabric by Stella’s team to be used in the design of the coat.
A pioneer in sustainable fashion, and a catalyst for bringing new materials to the mainstream fashion industry, Stella McCartney was an early investor in Protein Evolution and is an advocate for the company’s innovative technology. Protein Evolution’s initial fundraising round was led by Collaborative Fund’s climate-focused Collab SOS, which is in partnership with McCartney and LVMH. In late 2022, Protein Evolution and Stella McCartney announced a groundbreaking R&D collaboration for Protein Evolution to turn unused polyester fabrics from Stella McCartney’s previous collections into virgin-quality polyester, piloting a circular solution for the fashion industry. With the introduction of the first-of-its-kind parka, the team has marked a major breakthrough and milestone for the partnership in less than a year.
Protein Evolution is the only company in the world that has validated biological recycling technology through a piece of clothing, and the application across the broader plastics industry is promising as the process integrates directly into the existing supply chain – a real solution to decarbonize plastic production and deal with the plastic waste crisis.
“We’re excited for the world to learn about a company we’ve believed in, and backed, from day one. Protein Evolution’s break-through technology delivers a cost-effective, high-quality way to combat plastic waste and create a truly circular product, not only in fashion, but across industries,” said Sophie Bakalar, Collaborative Fund Partner. “It’s remarkable what the company has achieved in less than a year of this collaboration with our partner Stella McCartney. It really demonstrates Protein Evolution’s laser focus on creating solutions that can be used today – not decades in the future – to have the biggest impact at the fastest pace possible.”
For more information on Protein Evolution and Biopure, please visit www.pei.bio.