Clothes designed to grow with children could cut waste

Innovative businesses creating green alternatives to plastic bottles, cosmetic beads and synthetic materials are being backed by new funding from UKRI and Sky.

Ten projects have been given a funding boost from UKRI and Sky Ocean Ventures – Sky’s impact investment fund – to find fast and future-proof solutions to the ocean plastics crisis.

Bath-based company Naturbeads is developing a biodegradable alternative to microscopic plastic beads found in cosmetics including exfoliators and toothpastes. Their work with the University of Bath will tackle the 30,000 tonnes of micro plastics from consumer products that end up in our oceans and are ingested by sea creatures.

Meanwhile, London company Petit-Pli have created expanding clothes that grow with the wearer, inspired by satellite folding structures and origami. They hope to diversify from children’s’ clothes to maternity wear using the cash boost.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Trailblazing UK businesses are giving us all the choice to buy more sustainable clothing, packaging and cosmetics that are better for our environment.

Trailblazing UK businesses are giving us all the choice to buy more sustainable clothing, packaging and cosmetics that are better for our environment.

“Consumers have shown they are keen for green and we’re committed to championing those innovative companies that lead the way in this, protecting the planet while at the same time opening up huge opportunities for the UK economy.”

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky, said: “At Sky we recognise that we have a responsibility beyond our business. That’s why we’re supporting these ten innovators through Sky Ocean Ventures, the impact investment fund we setup as part of our commitment to help create a better and plastic-free future for our oceans. By investing in innovative new products and materials we will help turn off the plastics tap.”

Backing for Naturbeads follows the government’s success in banning microbeads from cosmetic products last year, and its plans to end the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds from April 2020. Naturbeads joins a further nine projects receiving funding to develop innovations to challenge single-use plastics and encourage the modern consumer to reuse and recycle products.

Successful projects to help reduce waste and pollution also include:

  • Flexible cardboard packaging for surfboards and bottles, created by Cornwall-based surfers Flexi Hex after noticing plastic waste on their local beaches;
  • A carbon neutral water bottle, made from 100% natural materials, that can biodegrade completely in a matter of months – from Edinburgh-based Choose Water; and
  • West-Yorkshire based textile innovators HD Wool, who are replacing synthetic fleeces with the next generation of sustainable wool products

Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC – the Natural Environment Research Council for UK Research and Innovation, said: “Plastic pollution is a global crisis that affects our oceans and our land.

“This partnership with Sky Ocean Ventures, along with other programmes, will help establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”

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