There are no limits to the imagination when it comes to researching sustainable textile innovations – bananas, squid genes and lately shrimp have all been tried and tested. Materials similar to leather are particularly in demand in the fashion and luxury industry. Today, beer has also been discovered as a potential alternative to leather, which requires no plastic.
Beer lovers need not worry because for one, the invention is not yet at the stage of commercial scale-up and for the other, only bean waste waste. barley from beer production is used, not the popular liquid itself.
A new textile innovation from beer does without plastic
The inventor is London-based Arda Biomaterials, which recently secured a £1.1 million (nearly €1.3 million/US$1.4 million) investment. The Clean Growth Fund has invested with others such as Plug and Play, Serpentine Ventures, Satgana and a group of angel investors from the alternative protein, fashion and climate tech ecosystem sectors.
“A lot of people think leather is a by-product of cows; rather, it is a co-product that subsidizes continued breeding. Breweries spent grains are typically burned, sent to landfill, anaerobically digested into gas, or fed to animals as cheap feed – all very low value use cases. I’m thrilled that we can skip the cow to create a truly new product that, to date, is 100% animal and plastic free,” Arda CEO Brett Cotten explained in a press release.
Arda was founded in 2022 by Edward TJ Mitchell and Brett Cotten, who met through global talent investor Entrepreneur First. Mitchell has a PhD in chemistry and Cotten has experience in the alternative protein sector, from start-ups to investors. The company currently works with breweries along the ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ in south London, where the city’s leather tanneries once stood.
“The advent of cheap plastics has wiped out a century of innovation in using natural inputs to make materials. Now, with sustainability in mind, we are discovering that the natural world has all the building blocks necessary to create wonderful and durable materials Leather production is particularly resource-intensive and today’s alternatives are riddled with plastic The chemical composition of grain waste is uniquely suited to be made into a material that can resemble many properties leather and more,” added Arda Technical Director Mitchell.
“We are delighted to invest in Arda Biomaterials and to support the commercial development of their work: it is a truly innovative solution to an important environmental challenge. Arda’s technology has the potential to disrupt traditional leather production and significantly reduce the environmental impact of highly polluting sectors. We look forward to working with Brett, Edward and the team to help bring this exciting technology to market,” commented Susannah McClintock, Chief Investment Officer of the Clean Growth Fund.
The Clean Growth Fund was launched in May 2020. The £101m venture capital fund backs the UK’s most promising clean growth companies that are at the forefront of ways to reduce carbon emissions. carbon in electricity and energy, buildings, transport and waste. Alongside Arda, it has invested in 13 UK cleantech companies to date.
“Drink your beer and wear it too”
With the help of this investment, Mitchell and Cotten hope to produce a finished material that can be sold to brands and retailers within the next twelve months.
“Now we can drink our beer and wear it too. This round of funding led by Clean Growth Fund will get us finished material that we can start selling to brands and get into the hands of consumers. I can’t wait to see others wear it,” Cotten confirmed.