Image: Myra Arshad (left) and Avneet Ghotra (right) during a visit to their resrearch lab
ALT TEX, a Toronto-based biomaterials startup, has closed a $1.5 million CAD pre-seed round to scale the production of its waste-to-wardrobe biotechnology. The 2x oversubscribed round was co-lead by Amplify Capital and Garage Capital, with involvement from Globalive Capital, Panache Ventures, Presstar (a global sustainable fashion impact fund) and others including Canadian Astronaut, Chris Hadfield. The pre-seed round brings ALT TEX’s total funding to $1.7M, following $200,000 previously raised through non-dilutive sources.
Short for “alternative textiles”, ALT TEX is creating circular, biodegradable and carbon neutral textiles engineered from one of the world’s largest landfill contributors – food waste. 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. Their closed loop technology allows them to do this at a competitive price to other sustainable options, and without sacrifice to performance.
ALT TEX was founded in 2019 by Myra Arshad, a third-generation textile entrepreneur alongside her best friend, Avneet Ghotra, who has a background in environmental science and biochemistry. “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. According to the Ellen MacArthur foundation, the fashion industry could use more than 26% of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 – ALT TEX claims that a single t-shirt created with its material can divert up to 9kg of carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
“The industry is growing rapidly and with over 60% of consumers indicating a willingness to pay more for the clothes we wear, our highly scalable technology has the ability to completely replace one of the most polluting textiles we use daily.” With the polyester manufacturing sector valued at $104 billion, ALT TEX expects to expand globally in the coming years to tackle the large market gap.
The NEXT 36 and Creative Destruction Lab backed startup has been well supported through the Canadian tech ecosystem which also includes Centre for Social Innovation, Schulich Startups and University of Toronto Entrepreneurship. They’re now attracting attention from the global fashion ecosystem with several pilot agreements locked in for their 2022 launch. With this funding, they are now looking to quickly grow their team with several new research positions and expand their R&D operations to begin serving these fashion brands by next year.