AlgiKnit, a US startup developing sustainable textiles from seaweed, has raised $13 million in Series A funding, it announced today.
- Collaborative Fund led the round.
- New investors included H&M CO:LAB, the investment arm of Swedish clothing retailer H&M Group; Starlight Ventures; and Third Nature Ventures.
- Existing investors Horizons Ventures and SOSV also participated.
- The Series A haul brings AlgiKnit’s total funding since it launched in 2017 to $17.9 million.
The North Carolina-based startup also announced the opening of its new manufacturing facility in the state’s Research Triangle region.
- The facility is a “repurposed” space that has been kitted out with second-hand furniture and fittings, which “highlights the company’s commitment to sustainability beyond its product,” AlgiKnit said in a statement.
- The startup has a second office in New York City.
It’ll use the Series A funding to scale up production of its kelp-based yarn.
How it works:
AlgiKnit makes yarns and fibers from kelp, a commonplace seaweed that the company describes as being “one of the most renewable and regenerative organisms on the planet.”
- The startup uses a “non-toxic wet-spinning process” to turn a combination of algae and plant biopolymers into yarn.
- The yarn is “strong, compostable, and hypoallergenic,” according to AlgiKnit.
- Products made from the yarn can be recycled and reclaimed when they are worn out to make more yarn.
In addition to fashion, AlgiKnit’s products also have potential applications in industries such as automotive and interior design.
Why it matters:
Making clothes, footwear, and household textiles from conventional fibers can cause significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water pollution.
Some fibers used in clothing and footwear production come from the agrifood sector, while others are synthetic – sharing the sustainability issues of the agrifood and chemicals sectors, respectively.
- According to the EU, around 10% of global GHG emissions come from clothing and footwear production; more than all international air travel and maritime shipping combined.
- The textile and clothing sector used 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015. That’s about 2,700 liters of water per t-shirt produced – or 2.5 years’ worth of drinking water for one person.
- Finishing and dyeing of clothes and footwear is responsible for a fifth of the world’s clean water pollution; while washing clothes releases an estimated 500,000 tons of microfibers into the world’s water system every year.
- Moreover, clothes and shoes typically end up in landfill when they reach the end of their useful lives, becoming the source of further emissions and water pollution.
- Around 35% of all microplastics present in the oceans are thought to come from clothing.
What they say:
“With the opening of our new facility [we] are focused on expanding our production capabilities, partnerships, and team to address global demand more quickly,” AlgiKnit co-founder and CEO Tessa Callaghan said in a statement.
“This is a huge next step in bringing this technology to scale, and creating positive, tangible change for the planet [while] transforming the fashion ecosystem.”