What’s unique about the work you do?
Consumers are right to refuse a compromise between performance, cost, and sustainability. NFW eliminates the need to compromise on these competing interests. More new tonnage of plant matter grows daily than the total tonnage of synthetics produced by humanity in a year. We reformat this photosynthetic abundance to enhance the standards of living for everyone. Mirum, unlike other vegan leather-like materials on the market, delivers high-performance luxury materials using no synthetics like polyurethane. We use zero plastic inputs and used Mirum can be recycled into new Mirum, making it circular in ways other materials are not. Mirum is intrinsically a low carbon footprint material that itself is composed of sequestered carbon dioxide.
Tell us a bit how your journey started.
Can humans live well without compromising the environment? This question is what we asked ourselves when we started NFW. We concluded that by unleashing the natural strength and diversity of nature, we could provide the world with a sustainable and circular supply chain that uses renewable resources and natural waste. Any solution to the plastics problem must be able to scale to meet the needs of billions of people. We envision a future supply chain fueled by natural materials, not oil. We started the journey with our fiber welding platform (also known as Clarus™) addressing the fashion industry and since have launched Mirum and expanded into additional segments such as footwear, automotive, consumer electronics, furniture, and home goods.
What are the areas where improvement is most needed (either in your specific work, or in the sector as a whole)?
Nonbiodegradable, energy-intensive, fossil-based materials like polyester and polyurethane exhibit a variety of negative environmental costs above their carbon footprints – including harmful microplastic pollution. There is a strong focus on finding ways to recycle them, but this only delays the moment in which they will be incinerated or end up in landfills and oceans.
Furthermore, products of petroleum can never scale to our entire civilization; they have been scaled in the industrialized world to support the standards of living of just 20 percent of the world’s population. As the population grows and more consumers enter the middle class, demand for limited fossil fuels will exceed supply and create conflict. It’s time for a paradigm shift.
What have been the key learnings from your work?
Consumers want to live holistic, healthy lifestyles, and they are looking for earth-friendly products from start to end. Educated and empowered consumers are pushing for transparency, they know the ingredients that they want to avoid in their lifestyles. They are ready for circular business models, such as regular product take-back and renewal programs, enabled by materials that can be recycled. Therefore, every decision we make at NFW and every product we release in the market must bear in mind the global impact from who grows and harvests our raw materials to its end of life. NFW is not just building a company; we are building a new model and an entirely new way of doing business across many industries.
What is your main focus at the moment?
Since its first internal production in Q1 of 2018, MIrum™ has progressed exponentially. NFW has already realized the first sales of Mirum™, and we are getting ready to announce new launches across different applications with key development partners. Our current efforts are focused on working with commercial partners to bring MIrum into the hands of consumers in 2020, launching our first Mirum collections and developing reuse and return programs with 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.