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May 28, 2020

New nonprofit aims to speed sustainable materials development

A new non-profit organisation has launched with the goal of accelerating the development of sustainable materials for the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries.

By Hannah Abdulla

A new non-profit organisation has launched with the goal of accelerating the development of sustainable materials for the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries.

The Material Innovation Initiative (MII) is bringing together brands, scientists, startups and retailers to bring these critical innovations to market. 

MII says the animal-based materials currently used across most manufacturing sectors are linked to climate change, chemical pollution and resource depletion. Plus, many of today’s animal product replacements are petroleum-derived plastics, it adds.

MII seeks out materials with “remarkable potential” from under-explored biological materials like mycelium to options like leather grown directly from cells, not cows. Production technology has also made it possible to upcycle existing materials in new ways. MII aims to fast-track the introduction of these sustainable materials to the marketplace by aligning key players in the materials ecosystem. 

“Brands and consumers alike are genuinely interested in sustainable materials, but have trouble finding them,” says MII co-founder Stephanie Downs. “MII will help connect them with the innovators they’re looking for.”

The group will identify and assess innovative materials and technologies; spur investments, research, and development to scale select innovations; and partner with brands, retailers, and suppliers to get sustainable materials to market.

“We can transform the materials industry and solve enormous environmental problems,” says MII co-founder and executive director Nicole Rawling. “We’re bringing together scientists and entrepreneurs to provide brands with the technical insights and expert support they need. Together we can meet sustainability goals and embrace new materials that consumers – and the planet – are demanding.”

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