Waste Worth Saving: Mango Materials

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While we’ve discussed many baffling material innovations in fashion, there is one unlike any other, changing the very idea of circularity. Using new, natural, materials is great and incredibly exciting in biofashion. However, we already have such an excess of products, and therefore waste, that we must also make a plan to involve already made items into the mix. Mango Materials is a company taking recycling to the next level and taking one of the most heinous chemicals contributing to climate change and turning it into something useful. The phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” doesn’t even seem to do it justice.

Mango Materials was incorporated in 2011 in the San Francisco Bay Area and has received wide recognition ever since. Their team of “engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators” have come together to produce a naturally occurring biopolymer from waste “biogas” (also known as methane). The company has essentially come up with a way to take methane and turn it into a sustainable polyester to be used in clothing, home decor, and more. This innovative material is fully biodegradable, which is in stark contrast with traditional petroleum-based polyester which has a slim chance of breaking down at all. The very gas that the problematic polyester fiber creates, is the same one utilized to create a far superior fabric through Mango Materials.

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The fact that “only 17% of clothing and other textile products is collected for recycling, while 30 billion pounds of textile waste is discarded in landfills” is reason alone for a more productive fiber. However, knowing that 60% of our clothing is made from polyester solidifies the notion that a healthy alternative is imperative to our planet’s future. Along with fiber, Mango Materials’ innovations can produce a biodegradable option for small plastic caps and containers. The company emphasizes the issue of traditional polymer once again by acknowledging that 250 billion plastic caps are produced each year and often don’t make it through recyclers. These caps end up in landfills and don’t break down properly among the trash. Mango Materials’ product is fully biodegradable in industrial and natural environments, which makes it a truly progressive innovation. Fast Company recently featured the startup in an article titled “The Shirt Of The Future Will Be Made By Methane-Eating Bacteria.”

“Instead of using ancient fossil carbons to make materials, you’re using something that you already have,” says Molly Morse, CEO of Mango Materials.

The publication brings up another important benefit of this new kind of clothing- no microfiber hazards. When we each wash our clothing at home, synthetic fibers release microfibers into the water and it eventually ends up in the ocean, harming marine life and contributing to the plastic already populating our waters.

While Mango Materials is a new company and are still working out the kinks in production, this innovative manufacturing process is an exciting step towards a closed-loop future. The Redwood City based business is pioneering a way to create clothing which eliminates harmful methane gas from our environment, reduces plastic pollution, and makes it easy to participate in circular solutions. We can’t wait to see how and if Mango Materials will be able to scale and share this exciting invention with the fashion industry at large.