Much like a baker varying their ingredients to produce unique flavor and texture, the NATURAL FIBER WELDING® platform reformats natural materials to create complex composites. These composites yield tunable, functional materials that are not only 100% natural and biodegradable, but supple, durable, elegant, and circular. Our manufacturing process requires zero plastic inputs and frees product designers from the choice between sustainability, affordability, and performance.
Q: What is the latest news from your project / initiative?
Natural Fiber Welding is proud to announce our newest material category Mirum™. A dreamlike material made of plants and minerals aimed at replacing the use of petrochemical heavy luxury faux leather. Mirum™ is very different from the petroleum-based luxury “leather-like” materials that exist today. Mirum’s™ natural inputs are free of plastic. While there are other brands touting “vegan” leather, what they don’t tell you is that many of these products are coated in polyurethane or use other plastic inputs for shape, endurance, or manufacturability. Mirum™ is unique in the elegance, tunability, performance, circularity, and transparency of our material.
Q: What’s unique about the work you do?
Consumers today are right to refuse a compromise between performance, cost, and environmental sustainability. We eliminate the need to balance these competing interests. Plastic is convenient, moldable, and cheap. Traditional manufacturing all over the world has therefore come to depend heavily on petrochemical-based inputs. 9.1 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. Most of it still exists in some shape or form today and very little of it has been recycled. But petroleum-based plastics don’t biodegrade (and if they do, they often produce toxic materials a result). Mirum™ is made with a circular system that is free of petroleum-based plastics and produces zero waste.
Q: Is it possible for humans to impact the world without compromising the environment?
That was the question we asked ourselves when we started Natural Fiber Welding. We came to the conclusion based on years of research that by unleashing the natural strength and diversity of nature, we can provide the world with a sustainable and circular supply chain that makes use of renewable resources and natural waste. And we think we can do it without forcing brands or consumers to choose between cost, aesthetics, or sustainability. True sustainability requires us to meet civilization where it’s at. Any solution to the plastics problem must be able to scale to meet the needs of our growing population. We envision a future supply chain fueled entirely by natural materials, not oil.
Q: What have been the key learnings from your work?
To be sustainable, businesses must not only implement scalable technologies, but must also implement models that scale to communities across all orders of scale and over multiple dimensions. NFW considers everyone on earth to be in our community. Therefore every decision we make as NFW and every product we release in the market must bear in mind the global impact from supply chain to end of life. NFW is not just building a company, we are building a new model and an entirely new industry for our multi-scale/multi-dimensional community.
Q: Does your project / initiative have any specific goals or targets for the next year?
From its first internal production in Q1 of 2018 Mirum™ has progressed exponentially in the last year. Our first demonstration to commercial partners came in Q3 of 2018 and continued development earning our first funded development agreements only a few months later in Q1 of 2019. As we look to the close of 2019 NFW is working to bring Mirum™ to market with key development partners. In the year ahead, NFW will be working with commercial partners to bring Mirum™ into the hands of consumers and to develop reuse and return programs with these partners. Working in tandem with these actors we can empower consumers to choose plants, not plastic, and ensure every item Made with Mirum™ has the opportunity to reenter Mirum’s™ circular system.
Q: What are the top three priority SDGs being addressed by your project / initiative?
#12 Responsible Consumption and Production
#13 Climate Action
#14 Life Below Water
#15 Life On Land