rethink everything

    Monocle and Lombard Odier - Rethink Sustainability III


    Lombard Odier and Monocle further explore how businesses are revolutionising the way that we deal with resource shortages. Our most valuable natural resource is under threat. Discover the businesses that are tackling water shortages, plastic waste and microfibres from clothing in innovative ways.

    Case study 07 - Freitag - Switzerland

    Daniel and Markus Freitag pioneered eco-friendly fashion with bags made of used truck tarps that quickly gained a following around the globe. Twenty years later they turned things around again and launched a clothing range that is made within a 2,500km reach of Zürich. The brothers were on the lookout for workwear for their employees when they realised there were few alternatives to resource-intense cotton fabrics.

    Monocle3_Article-A.jpgThe duo wanted to prove that it is possible to produce long-lasting clothes that haven’t had to travel across continents before ending up in our hands. They searched Europe to find suppliers who could help them create a fabric made of fully biodegradable hemp and flax fibres. After the clothes’ lifecycle, only the buttons needs to be removed before they can be composted.

    “It wasn’t an easy task to find all the contractors”, says Elisabeth Isenegger, who worked on the project from the beginning. “We were a bit frustrated when our first samples all arrived sealed in plastic bags; we had to rethink everything, from thread to the button.” Today the team around the Freitags are proud of their achievement and steadily expanding a collection
    that is intended to fit all day and last a lifetime.

    Case study 08 - Seabin - Australia

    Perth-based surfers Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton had been chasing waves around the Pacific Ocean’s most impressive beaches for years when they finally got tired of having to slalom through floating rubbish. That’s why, in 2015, the duo began developing a device that could help them clear up the seas.

    Monocle3_Article-B.jpgTwo years later their creation, an automated floating rubbish bin called the Seabin, is finally ready to be sold around the world. Even before the product’s commercial launch at the end of October, the company has been inundated with requests: more than 40,000 marinas in countries such as Brazil, Canada and Germany are keen to get their hands on a Seabin. “The demand has been completely overwhelming,” says Ceglinski with a smile.

    Each bin functions as a semi-submerged cylindric filter that sucks in water and debris with the help of an electric motor. The design was perfected through tests carried out with miniature model prototypes that were submerged in fishtanks filled with sesame seeds to simulate rubbish. Later, life-sized models are tested in a 300-metre-long water tank before the final design is shipped off to Lyon to be manufactured from fully recyclable HDPE plastic.

    For the moment the Seabin’s design means that it has to be placed close to floating docks in the calm waters of a marina. But within the next 12 months the founding duo hope to release a new version suitable for fixed docks (they would work wonders for Venice’s canals too). The end goal, however, is still to create a Seabin that can withstand the rough waves of the open ocean. “We want our company to be so successful at ridding the world’s marinas of rubbish that we put ourselves out of business,” says Ceglinski.

    Case study 09 - Ananas Anam - UK

    Monocle3_Article-D.jpgEvery year about 25 million tonnes of pineapple leaves are either incinerated or decomposed. Carmen Hijosa, the founder of London textile manufacturer Ananas Anam, sought to address this needless waste and came up with an innovative solution: she found a way to transform this farm byproduct into a fashionable textile called Piñatex. Made from the fibres of the leaves, this leather-like material is not only vegan-friendly but also an additional source of income for farmers in the Philippines and beyond.

    “I was initially brought to the Philippines with a brief to upgrade the leather export market in the 1990s,” says Hijosa, noting that it was this trip that inspired her to start Ananas Anam. The natural fibres of pineapple leaves have traditionally been used in woven Filipino clothing for centuries but no one had ventured to produce non-woven textiles with it. During the next seven years, Hijosa delved into research on the use of the leaf fibre and eventually set up the headquarters of her business in London, with operations also found in both the Philippines and Barcelona.

    Ananas Anam’s revolutionary plant-based textile comes in five colours – charcoal, natural, brown, gold and silver – and has become a strong and versatile alternative to leather. It can easily be adapted to make everything from moccasins to handbags and jackets.

    Case study 10 - Desolenator - UK

    William Janssen and Alexei Levene have a grand vision for their award-winning business: to fight the global water shortage, which the UN estimates will affect half of the world’s population by 2030. The solar-powered Desolenator, which will officially launch in the US in 2018, is able to purify water from any source, including seawater.

    Available in a variety of easy-to-maintain models, the Desolenator can be used everywhere from the home to luxury yachts, for both everyday use and emergencies. It can even supply purified water to entire communities in the developing world. Marketed first in regions where water shortages are frequent occurrences, including California, the Desolenator aims to make this global issue a thing of the past and will donate 1,000 litres of water with every unit sold. It’s good for the environment too thanks to add-on mineral filters that will make it a sound alternative to shop-bought water.

    The London firm has grown to a team of 12 since its foundation in 2015, with production facilities in Japan and the Netherlands. As Desolenator prepares for its first product launch next year, co-founder Levene shares his goals for the business: “We want to be part of the solution and bring awareness to the water crisis. We’ll celebrate once we’re delivering one billion litres of water; we’re working towards reaching 10 billion by 2030.”

    Important information

    This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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