Sofie Allert and Linnea Wikman receiving the 2015 Zennström Green Mentorship Award Sofie Allert (middle) and Linnea Wikman receiving the 2015 Zennström Green Mentorship Award.

Swedish Algae Factory wants to transform the way we think about fashion

What if we were better at creating products that could be a natural part of our ecosystem? The Swedish Algae Factory creates algae-based wastewater treatment systems that operate in harmony with nature. CEO Sofie Allert believes in transformation.

“People change, children become adults, winter turns to spring. One day is not usually like the other. These are things we see as obvious. Everything transforms. It is in fact one of the fundamental laws of nature that everything transforms; nothing is created or destroyed.

Despite this, we have created an industry based on the opposite principle. An industry where people create products that cannot be transformed by nature’s own tools, for example microplastics that disrupt nature’s own systems.

This industry creates waste that we try to get rid of in ways that are hardly optimal, with emissions of substances that natural ecosystems cannot handle due to the volume and concentration. Eutrophication created by the discharge of phosphorus and nitrogen as well as global warming created by too much greenhouse gas emissions are both examples of this.

« Transformation is a beautiful thing »

What if we could create products that could be a natural part of our ecosystem? What if we could make use of what is currently referred to as waste and emission in a way that nature can handle?

This is what we attempt to do at the Swedish Algae Factory. We create a controlled algae bloom by cultivating valuable algae on wastewater, prior to the creation of an uncontrolled algae bloom that disrupts the natural ecosystem in our rivers and lakes. In the process, an organic algae biomass and a silica-based nanomaterial is created. The organic biomass can for example be used in the production of food, fuel and fabric. One of the uses of the nanomaterial is to increase the efficiency of solar cells; it’s a product that is biologically compatible and does not disrupt natural ecosystems.

Instead of undermining it and trying to outmaneuver nature while thinking we will still be able to breathe the oxygen, eat the food and drink the water that nature provides us with, it is time to get inspired by the ingenuity of our world. To counteract the fundamental laws of nature is not sustainable, in the long run it reduces the operating space nature so generously has given us. It may result in a world with less food to eat and less clean water to drink.

Transformation is a beautiful thing. To transform what has previously been considered as waste and emissions into something valuable in the circular economic spirit is necessary. A slow destruction of natural ecosystems; which is the opposite of a circular economy; should not be an option. Nature’s fundamental law is based on transformation. Humans are a product of nature. By definition, we can transform our thinking and our industry.”

Sofie Allert, Swedish Algae Factory
Visit Swedish Algae Factory here.

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