In the west of France, a start-up named Bysco recovers the waste of mussel farmers and transforms mussel byssus into textile fibres. It has set itself the objective of producing 35,000 square meters of textile materials within two years.
Who would have thought it? Waste could be the best current alternative to polluting raw materials, or to those with an overly heavy carbon footprint. Robin Maquet and Florence Baron, co-founders of French start-up Bysco, certainly know something about that. The start-up transforms mussel byssus, the filaments that allow mollusks to cling to rocks, into textile fibres. An innovation that is being refined at great pace, and that could meet the needs of many sectors, including construction, fashion, and sports.
Finding a use for mussel waste
Making sustainable, bio-based textile materials without having to produce and use new resources is the whole point of waste recovery, no matter what type. At the present, these types of materials seem to be at the top of the list of those most likely to respond to the climate crisis. This is called recycling, or upcycling, since it consists of offering added value to a product that no longer interests anyone. In fashion, the term refers to scraps of fabrics or unsold goods that get used as raw materials, but many companies are also working to find different avenues for developing quality textile fibres that are sustainable and renewable.
Founded in August 2021, the start-up Bysco is based in Nantes, with a first production unit located in Cancale, at the crossroads between Normandy, Brittany and the Pays de la Loire, three of the main mussel-growing regions in France. And that’s no coincidence, since this young company organises the collection of the mussel byssus itself, in the process helping mussel farmers get rid of this waste whose treatment is particularly expensive. And it doesn’t stop there, since the start-up manages the cleaning of the raw material, while the textile transformation is subcontracted out to Atlanpole, which accompanies the start-up in its development.
This mussel farm waste is transformed into the natural, biosourced textile fibres of the future. Fibrous solutions that have already attracted several companies in various fields, including acoustic panels and sporting goods, as revealed recently by Les Echos Entrepreneurs. And the list is set to grow, as Bysco recently won the 2022 Grand Prize from Moovjee (Movement for young people and student entrepreneurs) for its innovation.
“By 2024, Bysco plans to produce 35,000 square meters of textile materials marketed to manufacturers throughout Europe,” reads the official website of the national French competition. A reward that should propel the start-up even further to the top. After oysters, brewing waste, airbags and windshields, mussels could be the latest solution used by the textile industry to respond to the numerous environmental challenges it faces.