Around the world, companies are trying to reduce the amount of waste they produce with their products. New companies are starting up regularly using alternative materials and ways of production to create innovative new technology to help the world. We’ve found our favourite products from all over Europe to show you what a little innovation can do…
France – Veja
This company was founded in 2004 and uses ecological materials and fair trade conditions to produce vegan and recycled sneakers. The reason this company is our favourite from France is that throughout every stage of production they are socially and ecologically responsible.
It starts with the sourcing of their materials. They buy organic and agro-ecological cotton at a price determined by them, not the market. Veja works directly with the producers and sets a price in advance to production giving the farmers greater financial security. From the graph below you can see how much more they pay from their cotton over the years.
But cotton isn’t the only material they use, of course. They use a variety of upcycled materials such as plastic bottles, cotton recycled from textile industry cuttings and recycled polyester.
B-mesh – This is a fabric that is made out of recycled polyester (PET). It is made from plastic bottles that are made into plastic flakes, which in turn are made into polyester fibre. The Veja V-12 model consists of an average of 3 plastic bottles.
J-mesh – is created using a blend of jute, recycled cotton and recycled PET. This is then added to Burlap, a traditional Brazilian material, which gives it anti-static and thermoregulation properties.
Fish leather – Since 2013 Veja has worked with freshwater fish farms to create leather from the Tilapia hides. This part of the fish is usually thrown away and not used, however now, Veja utilises them produce high-quality shoes.
Belgium – AR Metallizing
This printing company based in Belgium understands how important design and branding is to companies, however, they also understand the devastation caused by the reckless use of non-recyclable materials. AR Metallizing offers SilberBoard which has a sleek, shiny metallic finish and is compatible with many technically capabilities.
SilberBoard is eco-friendly and recyclable thanks to the use of correctly source paper and a thin aluminium layer. This layer is only 30 nanometers thick which means that the paper can be recycled as normal.
Offering environmentally friendly packaging allows for many different organisations to use their product and therefore hopefully lower the amount of plastic used in e-commerce and other companies packaging.
Germany – Arekapak
Germany is also making waves in the sustainable packaging department. Arekapak is still under production but we are super excited about what we see. They have created a completely natural and recyclable material to package food. The Arekapak packaging is made out of untreated agricultural byproduct with no added chemicals.
Their packaging is made from leaves from the Areca palm tree. They wait for the leaves to fall, wash and dry them in the sun before shaping them. Little water and energy is used in the production and zero chemicals making the packages completely natural and effective.
Amazing the packages are not affected by heat, therefore can be used to cool the product or even to heat it in the oven! We’re very excited about this product and hope to see it in supermakets around the world very soon.
The United Kingdom – Skipping Rocks Lab
Based in London, Skipping Rocks Lab is part of the Climate KIC start-up founded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and uses scientific teams based at the Imperial College. They have created an innovative material that holds liquids and is 100% natural.
Their new material is the perfect plastic replacement called Ooho. It is made from seaweed-extract and degrades in a natural environment in an average of 6 weeks or it can even be eaten!
Ooho is still being tasted and used sparingly however their plan is to create the perfect plastic replacement for small water bottles out and about, for fresh juices that are made daily, for sauces and condiments used by fast food restaurants and included in fresh salads, and for hydration in sporting events like marathons.
There are products all around that can help everyone lower the amount of waste we produce. These innovative materials and production methods will be the future and hopefully become the norm in supermarkets and stores. As consumers, we need to support these companies when we can and as innovators, keep pushing your ideas to create the marvellous options for the world.