Soil erosion is taking on dramatic proportions worldwide. The introduction of toxic chemicals is also detrimental to the quality of our water. Today, almost 30 percent of the microplastics in the world's oceans can be attributed to the textile industry. A German start-up called OceanSafe has come up with an innovative solution: 100 percent biodegradable textiles.
The company’s ideas are based on the simple principle of the biological cycle: Without toxic additives and materials, there is no harmful remainder. All OceanSafe products – from natural to synthetic, flame-retardant fibers – are therefore 100 percent biodegradable and become a nutrient for future generations after use.
Conventional polyester and natural fibers contain toxic additives that enter the water cycle, especially during production and the first washing processes. OceanSafe has replaced such toxic additives with biodegradable counterparts.
The Krefeld-based start-up has created a product range that has the power to revolutionize the global textile market. Manuel Schweizer founded the start-up OceanSafe AG in 2019 and has been developing textiles for the interior sector for over 20 years. Six years ago, he started to focus on textiles that are part of the biological cycle.
"I am not an eco-romantic. I'm not interested in being ‘green’ per se, but rather in being pragmatic about the future of our planet," says Schweizer. "I was wondering what contribution we can make in the textile industry. With OceanSafe we are now initiating a global paradigm shift – within the textile industry and far beyond!"
Cradle to cradle – preserving the unique cycle of life
OceanSafe follows the principle of “Cradle to Cradle”. From sourcing and production to the final product – OceanSafe avoids waste in the traditional sense. In this context, OceanSafe offers the return of used textiles, which are then composted industrially. After composting, only biogas and nutrient-rich humus remain.
That’s how every single towel, curtain or sheet can be reintroduced into the biological cycle. “We want OceanSafe to become the quality benchmark for the sustainable textile industry”, says Schweizer. “Our brand fulfils at least the requirements of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold certificate. In some areas, we add the strict parameters of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Our cotton-product sewing studios in Turkey are additionally audited by FairWear.”
German Sustainability Awards: The green Oscar
The idea of 100 percent biodegradable textiles has been a huge success so far. Recently OceanSafe received the German Sustainability Award as a "pioneer" in its field. "We are incredibly proud of this award," says Manuel Schweizer, founder and CEO of OceanSafe. " To me, the idea of recycling is too short-sighted. What's the point? With textiles made from yarns produced from recycled PET bottles, you are poisoning your customers and the environment anew. Red card for greenwashing!”
Strategic orientation: home textiles, fashion and technical fabrics
Manuel Schweitzer would like to see OceanSafe becoming a quality seal for the global textile industry within the coming years. Strategically his company will focus on three product groups:
· Home textiles (e.g. curtain fabrics, bed linen, terry towels)
· Technical textiles (e.g. sun protection)
· Clothing / Fashion
The company markets its own home textiles for direct sales as well as private labels for retailers. Especially in the clothing segment, Manuel Schweizer's team will concentrate on licensing models and co-branding. Well-known brands can then use the OceanSafe logo to showcase their commitment to the biological cycle.
"We will start tackling the large-scale market in January 2021 at over 3,000 specialist retailers in Germany – the products are a joint development with our partner for interior textiles, JAB Anstoetz," says Schweizer. "Over the next five years, we are planning the global roll-out in all business units. Therefore, we are now entering the first round of investor financing". Exiting times ahead for Manuel Schweizer and his team!