Food for Thought, New Materials, Rond BlueCity

Deepdives | SYMBIOSIS 2022

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Symbiotic relations emerge in good conversations. That is why we organize 6 deepdives during SYMBIOSIS 2022 on the 13th of May 2022, connected to themes that entrepreneurs, partners and designers in and around BlueCity work on. You are invited to be part of these conversations. Get your ticket and reserve your seat at one of these coversations via the link you get. Be on time, since we have limited capacity per conversation. The deepdives take place at the beginning of SYMBIOSIS at six inspiring locations in BlueCity. All deepdives start at 12.30 pm and finish at 14.30. Reservation is required and possible after you bought a ticket. We select you for the conversation based on your motivation to join. This way, we ensure a conversation with high quality.

Phytoremediation: cleaning our soils with plants

Phytoremediation has been used throughout the past centuries to clean hazardous soil, air and water. It is a symbiotic act in itself, since plants take up pollutants that are abundant on a certain site, working together with bacteria and fungi to break down the often complex molucular structures of the hazardous materials.  Contaminants such as metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, and crude oil and its derivatives, have been mitigated in phytoremediation projects worldwide. Plants such as mustard plants, alpine pennycress, hemp, and pigweed have proven to be successful at hyperaccumulating contaminants at toxic waste sites. In the Netherlands, the company Philips cleaned their former industrial sites using willows and one of the entrepreneurs in BlueCity investigates the remediation of asbestos using elephant grass. How does it work for instance with PFAS? What kind of ecological businesscases can be found in these practices? And aren’t in the end the fungi that do most of the work, in stead of the plants?

Experts that are present: Arie Hooimeijer (PaperInnovator) & Freek van der Heuvel (BioClearEarth)
Facilitator: Jeroen Thunnissen
Check out the recap in this blogpost

Regenerative seaweed: how to organize this

Seaweed as a resource for products provides answers to many major questions: since we can grow seaweed in coastal areas, it offers additional space to the areas of land we currently use for renewable resources and food production. Also, the applications to replace chemical fertilizers, plastics, food, feedstock, fibers and pharma are immense. The challenge is to organize the production chains in such a way that biodiversity is not harmed, but supported. How can we organize this from the very start of the seaweed economy in a regenerative way, and what is needed to accomplish this?

Experts that are present: Marjanne Cuypers-Henderson (BlueBlocks), Anne Boermans (Zeefier) & Maxime Penning (Kelp Blue).
Facilitator: Basil Babychan
In this blog, you find the key learnings from this conversation

Using invasive species as resource 

River lobster from the Americas, Japanese knotweed and Giant Hogweed: there are several species that are already quite dominant in the Dutch ecosystems. The action group Stop Invasive species works on reducing this dominance to give back space to ingedinous species. Yet there is also a call to embrace their power and use them as a resource. The Giant Hogweed could provide beautiful resources for the pharmaceutical industry for instance, and Japanese knotweed could bring material for the material-hungry construction industry. How can we better organize this, collaborate with these brutal visitors that are most propably here to stay, and what is needed for this?

Experts that are present: Charl Goosens (VARTA LAB), Laura Luchtman (Kukka) and Why Knot, startup that makes panels from Japanese Knotweed
Facilitator: Sherif Soubra
The conversation is recorded in a blogpost here.

The Hemp Project: looking for new textiles

The excellent potential of the hemp plant as a green material – it has been in the spotlight for quite some time now. The reason being for the numerous useful possibilities provided by the plant (textile fibers, food, oil, building material), as well as the amazing quality of the fibers and the benefits the plant can bring to the environment and the soil. Yet, the plant still fights against an image of being “drugs” and the current Dutch and European legislation prevents whole cropp valorisation.

Traditional ways of making textiles gain popularity again since these save water, resources and lots of chemicals. One of the interesting projects of the past years is The Linen Project: a community of stewards growing flax in Arnhem and processing it together into linen, investigating in the process how their practice influences their perceptions of value and their relationship to ground, material and physical labor. What insights emerge from these practices? How does this relate to the fact we need to scale up and aim for rapid transformation of the fashion industry? And what role do enzymatic processes have in bringing back textile production in Europe & in our region? How can the hemp economy get back into business and how can different actors collaborate in a better or smarter way?

Experts that are present: René Sauveur (Pantanova), Dyveke Kok (HempCollective) , Anna Wetzel (designer and volunteer The Linen Project) and  Joan Den Exter, fashion and csr consultant.
Facilitator: Karolina Thakker
See this blogpost for the recap of this conversation.

Products from the wetlands: duckweed

In all peatlands around the world, there is a severe problem with prolapsing of the soil. This causes leakage of CO2 from the peat into the air, and causes damage to the fertility of the already sour lands as well as to the cities and villages built on these peatlands. There is one systemic solution that is found by scientist in the past twenty years: reswamping the peatlands. This entails a drastic change for the existing entrepreneurs (farmers!), landowners, flora and fauna. There are stronger collaborations needed to speed up this change and to investigate how hinterland and cities can better collaborate to find new income models, new products and application of current organisms from these wet peatlands, such as reed, duckweed, but also willows. In this deepdive, the case of secondary and primary duckweed is discussed, with a product and case on the table: Flip the City, a startup that valorizes duckweed into a material, and is looking for strong collaborations for the coming years.
Experts that are present: Emma Raijmakers (FlipTheCity)
Facilitator: Lidwien Reijn (Province of South Holland)
Check out the recap of this deepdive in this blogpost.

Tomatoleather: a circular supply ecosystem

Treekind™ can be made from all kinds of green waste. It is a 100% plasticfree vegan leather that combined forces with the team of BlueCity to create a leather-like material made from green residual tomatostems. The exhibition during SYMBIOSIS showcasts a variety of applications from designers and makers that tested the materials in bags, swatches, hats and other fashionable products. Yet, what’s next? Treekind established their minimal viable plant in London last year and in the near future, they would like to expand to places to stimulate decentral production of their products and upcycle green residual waste into materials that are needed in a circular economy (and replace animal leather products). How to bring the material to a structural market? How can we combine forces to create a structural circular supply ecosystem?
Experts that are present: Willem Kemmers (Greenport West-Holland), Peter Baselier (Renewi) & Mira Nameth (founder Biophilica, developer Tomatoleather)
Facilitator: Debra Urich
The main insights from the conversation were captured in this blog.

Dive together with others in these topics!

Would you like to join one of these conversations? Then get yourself a ticket for SYMBIOSIS 2022 on the 13th of May @BlueCity and fill out the form to apply for one of them.