The American (New York) start-up AlgiKnit won 100,000 euro in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2018. During the final, 26-year-old Tessa Callaghan impressed the international jury with her environmentally-friendly ‘seaweed textile,’ a kelp (a type of seaweed) which is spun into yarn. In addition to AlgiKnit, LettUs Grow from the UK and AquaBattery from The Netherlands will take the same amount home. The first prize of half a million euro goes to the air bubble curtain developed by The Great Bubble Barrier from The Netherlands. The runner-up prize of 200,000 euro is for the textile recycle marketplace founded by Estonian start-up Reverse Resources. This brings the total prize pool of one of the biggest sustainability competitions in the world to 1 mn euro. In addition to the prize money, all five finalists will receive six months of expert coaching to improve the likelihood of their businesses succeeding.
The American start-up AlgiKnit makes fibres from kelp (a type of seaweed) that can be spun into yarn. By using biomaterials, AlgiKnit offers a solution that could transform the highly polluting textile industry into a circular economy. After having been used, this seaweed textile can serve as compost or animal feed. It also reduces the carbon footprint of the clothing industry, because no harmful fibre particles are lost during washing, such as is the case with polyester. The company is working on a prototype of a T-shirt and sneakers will be next.
The jury has announced that Anne Marieke Eveleens (29) of The Great Bubble Barrier from The Netherlands is the winner and presented him/her with a cheque for 500,000 euro. The Great Bubble Barrier has developed an air bubble screen for use on riverbeds that catches plastic before it arrives at sea. Approximately 80 per cent of the plastic floating in the oceans enters the sea via rivers. In order to tackle plastic soup, The Great Bubble Barrier sends high-pressure air through a perforated tube on the riverbed. This creates an air bubble curtain that blocks both the stream of plastic waste on the surface and the floating microparticles underwater. The plastic then floats to the waterfront along the air bubble curtain, where it is collected for recycling.
This year, a record number of 845 entrepreneurs from 100 countries submitted their sustainable business plans aimed at combating climate change. Last year, the Rwandan start-up EarthEnable won the EUR 500,000 first prize with their sustainable alternative to cement.