Ganni and Polybion Unveil Groundbreaking Bacterial Cellulose Jacket

Ganni and Polybion Unveil Groundbreaking Bacterial Cellulose Jacket

Ganni, a prominent fashion brand, and Polybion, a materials company, have made waves at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen with their innovative jacket made from bacteria-grown cellulose. This achievement marks a significant breakthrough in the quest for sustainable alternatives to traditional leather.

The jacket’s production began by feeding bacteria with mango fruit waste from the agriculture industry. As part of their natural digestive process, the bacteria converted the sugar in the waste into cellulose. Once the cellulose membrane stabilized, it was tanned similarly to cowhide and used by Ganni to create a stylish yellow blazer embellished with decorative silver buttons.

The debut of this jacket during the sustainability forum marked the first time a global brand showcased a product utilizing bacterial cellulose. Polybion, which has named the material Celium, views this collaboration with Ganni as the culmination of their decade-long research in the field.

Ganni and Polybion Unveil Groundbreaking Bacterial Cellulose Jacket

While mycelium leather, derived from fungi, has gained attention as a sustainable leather alternative, Polybion argues that Celium leather made from bacterial cellulose is even more environmentally friendly. Preliminary lifecycle assessments suggest that Celium leather requires fewer natural resources and has just a quarter of the carbon footprint compared to mycelium leather, while also achieving higher yields.

This is made possible by Polybion’s advanced vertical biofabrication system, which operates efficiently using solar-powered electricity and heat, transforming waste into finished material within a single facility.

Polybion genetically modifies bacteria to produce cellulose with performance qualities that rival both genuine and synthetic leathers. The resulting material already surpasses mycelium leather, reaching approximately 80% of the quality of animal leather.

However, Celium leather still relies on a polyurethane coating for durability, combined with a synthetic or bio-based backing depending on its application. The presence of these elements, along with any dyes or pigments used, currently hinders the material’s ability to be disposed of without causing harm to the environment.

Gómez-Ortigoza acknowledges that further improvements are necessary to surpass the performance of animal leathers. This will be achieved through continual learning, process refinement, and gene-tuning of the bacterial strains.

Polybion is presently focused on expanding its production facility in Irapuato, Mexico, which is the world’s first industrial-scale facility dedicated to bacterial cellulose production. By the end of 2023, the facility is expected to reach its maximum production capacity of 1.1 million square feet per year, further propelling the development of this groundbreaking material.

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