Biodesign Challenge

Orta is ready to move the sustainability narrative from scarcity to abundance…

Cotton prices are predicted to spike by more than 2,000% by 2050, while water required for manufacturing is set to outstrip supply by 40% in 2030. Fashion cannot sustain its current course. Recognizing the stress on scarcity of natural resources and the need to take further action towards circular models that produce more abundance, ORTA is partnering with Biodesign Challenge on a new prize for BDC 2019. The ORTA Biodesign Challenge is to reimagine denim, further ORTA’s mission to pioneer denim at the cutting edge of biology and design.

As a leading denim brand pursuing sustainable lifestyles and production, ORTA founded its sustainability division ORTA BLU in 2010. ORTA’s sponsorship of the Biodesign Challenge furthers their commitment to a net-positive handprint in everything they do. “At ORTA, sustainability is ‘business as usual.’ Our aim is to create a more robust denim ecosystem where art (design) meets technology meets ethics, for new infinite possibilities of denim today and tomorrow.” states Dr. Sedef Uncu Aki, who leads ORTA’s Denim Sales & Marketing, PD, R&D, Planning and Operations.

The Biodesign Challenge tasks teams from top design schools to create denim products, imagine alternative raw materials, and rethink processes using biotechnology. By partnering design students with top-tier scientists, the challenge will provide a new platform for envisioning positive and transformational applications for sustainable denim manufacturing, and alternatives to cotton and other natural fibers. The ORTA Prize for Bioinspired Textiles Processes will be awarded to the team that explores sustainability in the fabrication and treatment of textiles. The challenge asks teams to consider how living processes fit into textile lifecycles, alternative fibers and production. Students will consider how their manufacturing and application affects users, ecosystems, and the environment.

The winning global teams of the Biodesign Challenge will showcase their design models at the Biodesign Summit in New York in front of academic, industrial and design representatives. The ORTA prize will be awarded on the 21st of June at MoMA in NYC.

Awareness of issues around sustainability and ethics is becoming a key concern for many in their apparel purchases – especially for millennials and younger consumers whose purchasing decisions are becoming more discerning. Often called the eco-conscious or the ecomodern generation, sustainability is a conscious choice. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 87% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. Millennials value science-based solutions for natural processes as a means to biodesign products that are healthier for them and the planet.

In a world where fast fashion still dominates, real positive action is limited unless the industry adopts biodesign. As science and fashion converge, ORTA is ready to lead the global movement to harness an outside-the-box way of creating denim. With its commitment to the Biodesign Challenge, ORTA is ready to explore how innovations in biotechnology can transform denim, the materials we choose, and the processes used. ORTA is ready to move the denim industry from a narrative of scarcity to the reality of abundance.

ORTA BLU functions as the sustainability platform aiming to create a future where denim is designed, produced, consumed and disposed of in radically different ways.

BDC is an international competition and education program that introduces students to the intersections of biotechnology, art, and design.

Biodesign Challenge Prize

ORTA Biodesign Challenge Prize Awarded To RMIT University’s Enzer, A Water Filtration System For Microplastics

ORTA, a premiere denim manufacturer, awarded the ORTA Prize for Bio-Inspired Textile Processes to a team of Australian students from RMIT University who developed Enzer, a water filtration and treatment system for microplastics that can be retrofitted to washing machines. The ORTA Prize was awarded on June 21 at MoMA in New York City.

The Biodesign Challenge program partners university and high school students with artists, designers, and biologists to reimagine biotechnology.

The students of RMIT University tackled the issue of microplastics that are released in the washing cycle by polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers. Microplastics are a growing global problem: according to a 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature report, it’s estimated about 35% of the microplastics that enter the ocean, come via synthetic textiles. About 60% of clothing today contains polyester, due to its cost-effectiveness, high performance for today’s athleisure lifestyle.

“We found the Enzer filter system very promising for mitigating the runoff of microplastics from washing machines that pollute waterways, simply by fitting a filter onto the machine’s water hose. The filter has an enzyme that breaks down the microfibers that contain these plastics. Microplastics in synthetics are a systemic problem, and we see great potential in what these students proposed, especially for industrial application in water treatment systems,” states Dr. Sedef Uncu Aki, head of ORTA’s Denim Sales & Marketing, PD, R&D and Sustainability.

ORTA Prize finalists also tackled the environmental damage that Spandex® causes. A team from Fashion Institute of Technology’s solution was harvesting discarded oyster shells for its connective elastin tissue that could replace elastane fiber.

Awareness of issues around sustainability and ethics is becoming a key concern for many in their apparel purchases – especially for millennials, often called the ecomodern generation, whose purchasing decisions are becoming more discerning. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 87% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.

“Rising consumption around the world is causing a landfill and waste crisis, which is challenging ORTA to reimagine denim, and turn waste and scarcity of resources into abundance,” added Dr. Sedef Uncu Aki.