A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk

 

silk1. Sustainability Problem: Climate Change (Carbon Intensity of Production) 

The apparel industry is one of the most unsustainable in the world, requiring heavy use of raw materials (water, land,etc.) and chemicals (dyes, coatings, finishes) , while also generating excessive waste because clothes are not made to be recycled. The production of polyester, a fabric made from petroleum/plastic, has increased almost sixfold from 1980 to 2007, and is incredibly carbon intensive.

 2. Solution

  • Bolt Threads, a startup out of the University of California San Francisco, studied spiders to understand how they produce webs, and has essentially used bio-mimicry to develop a newer, more sustainable way of producing fabric.
  • The main input is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested, and replanted. They have the same chemistry as silk from spiders/silkworms, but are man made
  • They studied silk proteins found in nature, develop proteins inspired by the natural silks by putting genes into yeast, and then produce the proteins in large quantities through fermentation. Bolt then takes the silk proteins and spins it into fibers, and the fibers into fabrics and garments

 3. Stakeholders

  • Bolt Threads
  • Investors
  • Manufacturer & procurement partners
  • 3rd party fabric users

 4 .Implementation Steps

  • Understand clothing pieces (i.e. athletic-wear, mens suits, etc?) that will be the most natural fit for this fabric
  • Produce the garments, set up direct to consumer marketplace
  • Partner with companies trying to be more sustainable who are interested in using fabric at a larger scale

Sources

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-03/a-bay-area-startup-spins-lab-grown-silk

https://boltthreads.com/technology/ 

JM4202

Comment on: World’s First 100% Compostable Water Bottle, Cap, & Label | This is a good innovation that can help the situation we are in. The bottle  technology has been around for a little while, the but company needed to develop the cap, as that was a roadblock for many industrial composters to start accepting the item.

As a frequent composter, I would like to know more about how the company expects to differentiate these bottles from others that are green – i.e Sprite, as to  not confuse those who are not careful about where they put their trash. Additionally, would be great to understand the ideal compost conditions for the 85 day compost time. If we start to get more and more ‘plastics’ and less organics in the compost, will that increase?

 

 

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One thought on “A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk

  1. Thats is a very cool idea with great potential. I hope that the company will be able to cheaply produce enough “silk” and have a global presence so that they will be able to bring about a real change.

    Two things stand out to me in this technology: 1) Is the farming of the planets the company extracts sugar from sustainable and are these plants widely available?  2) Can the company bring the technology to a sufficient scale so that it can “move the needle” and meaningfully make the apparel industry more sustainable?

    Like

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