Design for Decomposition, a multi-year effort managed by the Biomimicry Institute, has been granted €2.5 million. The effort will demonstrate scalable new paths for the 92 million tonnes of fashion waste generated yearly by embracing real decomposition – the way organic matter breaks down. The initiative is a bold follow-up to the Institute’s 2020 study, The Nature of Fashion, which highlighted decomposition as the missing link in the fashion industry’s attempts to be more sustainable.
The Biomimicry Institute will pilot technologies that convert waste clothes and textiles into biocompatible raw materials in collaboration with the Laudes Foundation, the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, the Metabolic Institute, The OR Foundation, and Celery Design. The multi-year program will examine the most feasible decomposition technologies that are economically viable but have yet to scale in Western Europe and Ghana.
The program begins with a thorough dive into biological studies on the many forms and situations of natural decomposition, followed by a comparison of those methods to the hundreds of existing decomposition technologies to see which best mimics nature. These technologies will be evaluated in Accra, Ghana, which gets roughly 15 million used clothes every week, as well as places with more established waste-management systems, such as Amsterdam or Berlin, during the pilot phase. Simultaneously, Yale researchers will investigate what really decomposes and how it happens. More partners, technologies, pilot locations, and financiers are needed to combat post-consumer fashion waste, according to the consortium.