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SAN FRANCISCO – A ‘biopolyester’ pilot plant in the US is looking to scale after significant interest from apparel brands. The facility, at a wastewater treatment plant in San Francisco, sees a tech business using waste methane to feed bacteria that can produce biodegradable bio-polyester fibres, which can be spun into thread.

Mango Materials was founded on the back of research into the use of methane to produce polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) – a class of natural or ‘bio’ polyesters which are derived from bacterial fermentation – as a plastic substitute.

The company’s research has now been taken into the field and is focused on commercialisation, with scaling to increase volumes of PHA from methane.

Anne Schauer-Gimenez of Mango Materials told Apparel Insider: “Mango Materials’ process can take all forms of methane, including methane produced from wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and even agricultural facilities.

“We are currently located at a wastewater treatment plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The wastewater process produces methane that is traditionally captured and flared. We take that methane and feed it to our bacteria which use it to produce the PHA. The methane needs to be captured and we co-locate at the methane production site.

“We are currently speaking with several apparel brands who are interested in using our biopolyester in their products in the future. Currently, we are looking for partners in the eco-luxury space with higher margins to grow our business and allow this material to enter the market at lower volumes. But as we scale our technology and increase our volumes, we will be cost competitive with traditional polyester.”

Read the full story in the first printed edition of Apparel Insider.


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