Future-fit: Materials that Matter

Looking to other industries for design cues and inspiration is something the IPL Packaging Design & Innovations team regularly engages in, particularly when it comes to the development of sustainable materials and groundbreaking, eco-effective ideas.
Says Esté Theron, Senior Graphic Designer for IPL Packaging, “Sustainability is no longer simply the future for packaging; it’s officially the present state in package design and, naturally, corporate responsibility. Not only a better option for the environment, it’s an investment in the future; especially for brands actively pursuing a positive image in the eyes of the consumer.”
“For our team it’s often not enough to simply look at the progress being made when in it comes to new and sustainable packaging materials. We also look to other sectors such as the fashion industry, where global brands, many once synonymous with ‘fast fashion’, such as H&M, are recognizing how their production impacts the environment and are taking strides to address sustainability and inspiring us,” she says.
Here’s one such example:
The Global Change Award (initiated in 2015 by the H&M Foundation) is one of the world’s leading challenges for early stage eco-innovation, and the largest initiative of its kind in the fashion industry.  
The Award programme aims to accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry and, ultimately, protect the planet and our living conditions. It looks for tomorrow’s game-changers – sustainable innovations that have the possibility to make a real impact on a large scale.
Each year, an expert panel selects five winners from thousands of applications from around the world.
This year saw a staggering 6,640 entries from 182 countries. The winning teams share a grant of €1 million and get access to a one-year accelerator program provided by the H&M Foundation, Accenture, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
The five winners of Global Change Award 2019 have presented innovations of today that are the solutions of tomorrow; new circular approaches aiming to transform the fashion industry and craft a sustainable and stylish future. We’re inspired:
Meet the top 5 Winners for 2019 that have us thinking:

The Loop Scoop  – Germany

Using tech to make fashion circular from sketch to scrap.
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A smart and thorough digital system with a straightforward mission: to close the loop on every garment from design to wear to recycling.
Designers are provided with the knowledge, tools, and resources that they need to design with recyclable intent. The system specifies how each choice of material, cut, and production affects the planet.
Product specifications are then saved as a digital identity. This circularity ID can be scanned by consumers to access a product site presenting the best options once done with the garment, thereby encouraging consumers to reuse, update, or recycle their fashion.

Lab Leather – Peru

Using microorganisms to create vegan biodegradable fashion.
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Besides demanding the lives of millions of animals each year, conventional leather production is harmful to the environment due to the toxins and heavy metals used for tanning. Tanning also requires large amounts of water – a scarce resource around the globe.
While there are vegan alternatives on the market, few have been able to match all the unique properties of real leather. That is, until now:
This innovation, derived from exotic Peruvian flowers and fruits, makes it possible to mimic virtually any desired leather texture, color, toughness or thickness. The material, grown from microorganisms in a biotech lab, is produced in the same industry standard sizes as conventional leather, making the switch to this vegan alternative an easy and obvious decision for the eco-minded.
The material is also 100% biodegradable so the remains from the recycling process can be used as a liquid compost. In short, a zero-waste solution that saves money, energy, and lives!

Sustainable Sting – Kenya

Growing nettles to create sustainable fashion and livelihoods.
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What do you grow in hard-to-access, thin-soiled steep slopes where irrigation is tricky and machines can’t reach them?
The solution is as simple as it is brilliant – you grow what would grow there naturally.
Stinging nettles are true survivors, requiring just some sun, minimal water, and whatever soil you have. In return, the plant provides stalks that can be turned into a sustainable linen-like fabric. Process leftovers can be used to make paper and dyes.
Besides potentially providing job opportunities and nutrients for more than 200,000 smallholder farmers across Kenya alone, organic nettle fabric is a welcome, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fabrics.

Sane Membrane  – Switzerland

A biodegradable and mineral-based membrane designed for outdoor wear.
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Clothes designed for people who truly love nature often cause considerable damage to the environment. The root of this problem is within the harmful substances added to outdoor wear to help these garments withstand rain and harsh weather conditions. The wear, tear and washing of such gear releases non-degradable carcinogenic toxins as well as micro-plastics into the world.
Sane Membrane, however, takes a cue from nature itself.
This non-toxic, mineral based and fluorine-free alternative consists of a biodegradable solution that does the job just as effectively but naturally. It can be added to any kind of garment in the form of a micro-thin membrane that shields against the elements in a sustainable way so that protection against the cold, wind, and rain can be as natural and solid as the rock it came from.

Clothes that Grow  – UK

Outfits that expand with the child while reducing the environmental impact.
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As children grow 7 sizes in their first 2 years, there’s an appalling amount of children’s clothes that are bought but barely or never worn before they’re outgrown.
This patent-pending innovation offers a smarter solution by presenting durable and appealing clothes that grow with the child. Inspired by space engineering and the ingenious folding techniques of origami to maximize volume in a minimum amount of space, these garments are folded in a way that allows for tops and bottoms to expand and fit each child for years.
As children are extreme athletes, the material is windproof, waterproof, and designed for fun, adventurous play. You can make a single purchase and have your kid enjoy it over time and then pass it on to siblings or friends, teaching the next generation sustainability before they’ve even learned their ABCs!