AMSilk says that its silk proteins and technology help build a better future by protecting the planet’s natural resources. — Kindly elaborate from the prism of the textile-apparel-fashion (including technical textiles like medtech) industry.
We believe that nature has all the answers to replace existing materials with revolutionary alternatives. Our bio-fabricated silk proteins are created using renewable carbon and raw materials through the process of fermentation. Our proteins and textile fibres are biodegradable, taking just a few months to break down the silk in seawater and on land. Our compostable products are free of microplastics and can be recycled and re-spun.
AMSilk serves multiple industries providing products that can be applied across a range of sectors. For example, in medical devices, our products can be used as implant coatings to create a bio-harmony between the body and implant. Once the medical device has been successfully implanted, the proteins will biodegrade in the human body.
Again, you say that you make the planet a better place by replacing petroleum-based processes and products with sustainable biomaterial alternatives. Yours is engineered silk. Means you need to market against real silk. What's your official position on real silk?
Natural silk is a traditional material that stands for luxury in many countries. What’s important to know is that the production of this silk is not a kind of natural farming and I think that’s a cruel business. Traditional silk is made from the cocoons of the Mulberry Silk Spinner butterfly. 5000 caterpillars are boiled alive within their cocoon during the production process of one-kilogram of conventional silk. They are not able to change into the beautiful butterfly they are destined to be.
Most importantly, the production of AMSilk’s bio-fabricated silk does not involve any natural farming processes. Our unique high-tech bio-fabrication process takes the blueprint for silk from the genome of a spider and re-programmes micro-organisms to enable them to produce silk polymers. Spider silk has higher purity and strength compared to traditional mulberry spinner silk. Instead of comparing our materials against traditional mulberry silk, we see our products as a new class of materials previously unimaginable, providing innovative, sustainable, and smart performing solutions.
The production of our recombinant silk protein uses bacteria and biotechnology fermentation processes. During this process, we can adapt the properties of our silk proteins for numerous applications. This works in two ways. Firstly, we can decide on the structure of the silk molecules and secondly, we can spin out the yarn in different fineness. We use very coarse yarns for smart performance fibres and ultrafine fibres, even finer than traditional silk fibres, for luxury materials.
The Higg MSI has suffered a clobbering lately. How do you certify your products as sustainable and planet friendly?
Today there is a limited choice of testing methods and those available were developed long before bio-fabrication in industrial quantities existed. We are defining new test methods, which fully measure the properties of our novel products in detail and certify their sustainability.
For us, sustainability begins with the raw materials in products. AMSilk ensures that no fossil fuels are used in its products, but plant-based renewable carbon is used instead.
At AMSilk, bio-fabricated materials are always created with their end of life in mind, ensuring our fibres can be fully recycled or biodegrade. The recycling rate for textile fibres today is estimated to be below 2% which means the majority of fibres end up in landfills as microplastics, polluting our planet for hundreds and thousands of years.
Being vegan, completely biodegradable and produced with bio-fabrication, AMSilk’s products are truly environmentally friendly and make a significant contribution to a future zero-waste society.