12 companies turn food waste into fashion statements – food storage

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an estimated one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. But the textile industry — which accounts for 6.7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Quantis International study — is finding a role in food waste reduction efforts.

Some companies, such as Circular Systems, are producing natural fibers made from organic waste to reduce their company’s impact on the environment. “Zero impact is a milestone in our transition to significant impact, which is what we need to achieve as a species in our habitat,” said Isaac Nicholson, founder and CEO of Circular Systems. And the Nicholson company is not alone.

Food Tank is showcasing 12 innovative companies that are turning food waste and agricultural products into eco-friendly, wearable products. These companies aim to combat food waste, while also bringing forward products that they hope will create sustainable food and fashion industries.

1. Agrolop (circular systems)

One of Circular Systems’ three breakthrough waste-to-fiber platforms, Agraloop turns food waste into BioFibre™, a high-quality natural material in the fashion industry. This fiber is made from a processing method that breaks down organic by-products including pineapple, banana, flax and hemp seeds. Speaking at the 2019 Global Change Awards and presented by Vogue, Agraloop reported that this technology could produce up to 250 million tons of fiber annually, more than five times the current global fiber demand.

2. Examples

Allegory is a woman-owned company that produces high-quality, cruelty-free and PVC-free accessories from discarded fruit. The company collects produce from farms and grocery stores, including mangoes, apples and mangoes, into bags, purses, bags and more. Using plant-based polymer materials and recycled polyester, they report using 84 percent less energy than traditional manufacturing methods.


Toronto-based startup ALT TEX is creating a sustainable polyester alternative from food waste. Founded by entrepreneur Meera Arshad and her best friend and biochemist Avenet Gotra, the company recently raised $1.5 million to commercialize a polyester-like fabric. The startup, which is part of the NEXT36 entrepreneurship program, aims to disrupt the polyester industry by creating a microplastic-free, sustainable fabric made from food waste.

4. Pineapple Anam

A certified B corporation, Pineapple Anam is Pinatex, a plant-based skin conditioner made from pineapple leaf fiber waste. More than 100 brands around the world have used the company’s textiles, which can be mixed with other natural materials. According to the company, converting the leaves – which would otherwise have gone to waste – into Piñatex prevented the release of 264 tons of carbon dioxide. Piñatex He is a 2016 recipient of the Arts Foundation Material Innovation Award. Publications including Huffington Post, WIRED, ELLE, Vogue have featured the company’s products.

5. Bananatex

Made from the fiber of the abaca banana plant grown naturally in the Philippines, Bananatex is a 100 percent biodegradable and waterproof fabric developed by Swiss bag brand and material innovators QWSTION. Requiring no additional inputs such as pesticides or fertilizers, the banana plant used for Bananatex is used to aid reforestation efforts in the Philippines. This circular textile substitute won the Green Product Award 2019, the Design Award Switzerland Award 2019/20 and the German Sustainability Award Design 2021.

6. Bolt threads

Bolt Threads is the material solutions company behind Milo, a faux leather made from mycelium, an underground network of fungi. Producing the mycelium used to create Milo requires compost, air and water, and according to the company, the mycelium only takes two weeks to grow. Brands including Adidas, Lululemon and Stella McCartney have incorporated Mylon into their product lines.

7. Desserto

In the year Mexico-based Deserto, founded in 2019 by Adrian López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, produces a leather alternative made from the nopal cactus, also known as piric pear. Plastic-free, cruelty-free, and requiring little water to produce, this plant-based leather is used in the automotive, fashion, and furniture industries. Deserto has recently partnered with companies including Adidas, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. They have received recognition and awards from organizations including LVMH, Good Design Australia, Global Fashion Agenda, Architectural Digest and PETA.

8. Kombucha Couture

Designed by cheesemaker Sacha Laurin, Kombucha Couture is a line of sustainable jewelry and apparel produced by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) used to produce kombucha. Working to create a sustainable, versatile fabric that can be used as a substitute for leather, canvas or silk, Lauryn has experimented with creating wearable pieces using different dried cultures. Featured at Sacramento Fashion Week and The Huffington Post in 2014, Kombucha Couture hopes to help define sustainable fashion.

9. Orange fiber

Using citrus juice by-products, Italian company Orange Fiber strives to produce high-quality, sustainable fabrics for clothing companies around the world. They blend a silk-like cellulose fiber that can be used on its own or blended with other fibers and materials to make their fabric. Orange Fiber reports that it has recycled over 120 tons of lemon juice by producing over 15,000 meters of fabric. – Products. Orange Fiber is the recipient of numerous awards including the UNECE Ideas for Change Award, the MF Supply Chain Awards 2020, the Elle Impact2 Award for Women.

10. QMilk

Created by microbiologist and fashion designer Anke Domaske, QMilk is a 100 percent renewable textile fiber made from cow’s milk. Using the 2 million tons of milk wasted in Germany every year, QMilk works to provide a sustainable and innovative solution to food waste. The company, which aims to be completely zero waste, is the recipient of awards including the 2015 GreenTech Award and the 2014 “Bio-based Material of the Year” Innovation Award.

11. S. Coffee

In the year Created in 2008 by a Taiwanese functional textile company, Singtex, S.Cafe is a fabric made from used coffee grounds. S. Cafe sources the grounds from coffee shops in Taiwan and combines them with other recycled materials to produce deodorizing and quick-drying yarn. The North Face, Puma and Timberland are among the apparel brands that use the brand’s materials. In recent years, S. Cafe has received the Taiwan Excellence Award in 2016 and 2017 and the ISPO TEXTRENDS Award in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018/19.

12. Vegetables

In the year Founded in Milan in 2016, Vegia is a technology company that produces plant-based leather products made from grape waste. Skins, stems and seeds from grape marc – often wasted during wine production – Vegia plant-based leather is a 100 percent recyclable and renewable textile. Companies can use the leather for bags and other accessories, shoes and clothes. Vegea is the recipient of awards and recognition, including the 2015 Startup and Trophy Award, the 2017 Innovation Made in Italy Award from Unicredit and the 2017 Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation.

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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