Conservation X Labs, an innovation and technology company that spurs solutions to the extinction crisis, has teamed up with a global coalition of partners to launch an innovation competition with US$ 650,000 in cash prizes dedicated to solving a problem of planetary proportions—plastic microfibre pollution.
Plastic microfibre pollution is in the water we drink, air we breathe, and food we eat. Studies have found that more than 83% of tap water worldwide is contaminated with microplastics, and humans could be ingesting a credit card’s worth of microplastics each week. The health impacts are yet unknown, but what is known is that our clothes make a considerable contribution to the problem. Sixty percent of clothing is made from plastic-derived fibres, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon, and the clothes shed microplastic fibres into the environment with every wash.
To help halt the devastating impact of plastic microfibre pollution on our waters and our environment, Conservation X Labs is launching The Microfibre Innovation Challenge, an all-out recruitment effort to entice the brightest minds to tackle the microfibre pollution problem and come up with upstream innovative sustainable solutions in textile production and manufacturing.
“By harnessing planetary genius, we can allow conservation to operate at the pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the planet’s toughest environmental challenges,” says Alex Dehgan, Co-Founder of Conservation X Labs.
“To achieve the goal of ending the Sixth Mass Extinction, and really to protect biodiversity and nature writ large, we need all hands on deck,” adds Paul Bunje, Co-Founder of Conservation X Labs.
Entrants will have until June 25, 2021 to submit applications for innovations that replace plastic-derived textiles with non-toxic, biodegradable alternatives and/or develop improved textile manufacturing processes to decrease microfibre shedding. Finalists will receive the support of an industry advisory panel to guide the final presentations.
“We’re ready to leverage our network to promote investment in market-ready innovations” says Mark Spalding, president of The Ocean Foundation, a Conservation X Labs partner in the competition.
The challenge is powered by the Flotilla Foundation and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and supported by a global alliance of partners working on the frontlines of the problem including The Biomimicry Institute, Bolt Threads, Canopy, Fashion For Good, Finisterre, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Material Innovation Initiative, The Microfibre Consortium, The Ocean Foundation, Oceanic Global, Ocean Wise, Plastic Soup Foundation, Queen of Raw, Think Beyond Plastic Foundation, and Under Armour.
In addition to cash prizes, winners will have access to Under Armour’s innovation team, which will help develop, test and refine the winning ideas, and will receive UA gear and their own custom-designed shoes. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company will also name a new beer after the winner. “You’ll not only help save the planet, but you’ll get to celebrate it with your very own brew,” says company founder John Liegey.