Toronto-based Start-up turning food waste into textiles

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A Toronto-based cleantech start-up, ALT TEX, has developed a technology that turns food waste into textiles.  The company claims that it creates the  world’s most sustainable polyester alternative from food waste using a three-step process.

The company’s novel bio-polymer technology re-engineers sugars extracted from the food waste into high performance, polyester-like fibres and fabrics for sustainable fashion brands. The closed-loop alternative is aimed to replace polyester, which makes up over 60% of textile manufacturing. The closed loop technology allows the companyto do this at a competitive price to other sustainable options, and without sacrifice to performance.

The company recently raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round of funding. The round was co-led by Garage Capital and Amplify Capital, with participation from Globalive Capital, Panache Ventures, Ramen Ventures, Spacecadet Ventures, and Presstar. Astronaut Chris Hadfield also invested in the round, as did University of Toronto business professor Ajay Agrawal.

The company was founded in 2019 by Myra Arshad and Avneet Ghotra.  Ms. Arshad is a business school graduate and serial entrepreneur.  Ms. Ghotra is a biochemist.   “This industry has always been close to me given my family’s background in this space, but the level of customer, investor and general stakeholder interest we have received really validates that the environmental and ethical problems are also becoming personal to the general population,” said Arshad.

“We essentially take one of the world’s largest landfill contributors, which is food waste, and we convert it into what we believe will be the world’s most sustainable polyester alternative,” stated Myra Arshad in an interview with National Observer.

The recent infusion in capital allowed the company to buy a key piece of machinery (a polyester melt extruder), secure more space, and start paying themselves.

“We want to take this global because we truly believe this technology can effectively replace polyester,” Arshad said in a video interview with the National Observer, noting the source fibre they create could be turned into textile on the existing equipment for the fossil fuel-based version, meaning, “this should not be a premium product for a very, very long time.”