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Eco-sustainable materials for a possible future

80% of products environmental impact is already determined while they are designed: the choice of the materials objects are made of becomes thus a crucial factor for experimenting new solutions. Particularly interesting are those materials deriving from organic waste of agro-industry and those produced by living organisms like funguses, algae and bacteria. Growing materials – the itinerant exhibition by the Italian network Nuup Sustainable Creativity – gives examples of research and application to be discovered. Such examples derive from experimentations on bioplastics and from the selection of projects conducted by Barbara Pollini, eco-designer and Nuup cofounder teacher, with the students of Naba (Nuova accademia di belle arti, in Milan, the largest private art academy in Italy).

The result is a map of the enterprises and start-ups, which deal with the most innovative materials for new production and consumption models: from bioplastics made of starches to vegetal waste stuff, like vegetable skins and tea, wood or ash scraps and coffee grounds. Coffee is the most commercialized raw material in the world, after oil. In Italy, the yearly per capita coffee consumption is of 5.9 kg equal to 360,000 tons of grounds. Through the absorption of coffee smells, RC+L was generated, which is a material made of grounds and latex used to create beautiful flip flops. Another curiosity: every year, in Italy, 3.3 millions of tons of vegetal waste derive from agricultural products; from peanuts skins, in particular, a substance called BIONUT has been obtained and used for creating light but strong eyeglasses frames.

In Growing materials discoveries come out also from animal wastes: zootechnics influences greenhouse effect more than the entire transportation sector, with emissions equal to 18%; in Italy, every year we produce 250,000 tons of eggshells for example. They are used to make NU-OVUM, bioplastics meant for interior design. As far as organic production from funguses and algae is concerned, two start-ups have undertaken eco-sustainable manufacturing. Ecovative (ecovativedesign.com) uses mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus) as natural glue for packaging and building products. The Italian company Favini (favini.com) uses algae, fruit waste, plants and leather scraps for making paper (growingmaterials.net; nuup.it).

Eco-sustainable materials for a possible future

A biodynamic life
by Giuliana Zoppis

Eco-sustainable materials for a possible future

News, events, products and services for an innovative and conscious lifestyle:
all that can give an ecologic shift to everyday actions with responsibility, curiosity, creativity and the desire of improving us and the world we live in.

This is the section led by Giuliana Zoppis, architect, journalist and expert of ecodesign, biobuilding and socio-environmental sustainability. In 2006, together with Clara Mantica , she founded Best Up the first chain for promoting the sustainable living.