The possibilities for using human hair waste seem to be endless. We are now exploring yet another avenue with London-based regenerative biomanufacturer, Biohm. We are collaborating with Biohm on an exploratory study to trial human hair waste in both their "orb" and "mycelium" processes to produce an alternative wood-based sheet material and other 3D objects. We are both keen to see whatever product(s) we co-create to be that for the hair and beauty industry. 

What is regenerative?

Whereas sustainable businesses look to “do less harm” to the environment, regenerative businesses look to give back even more to both people and planet than they take from it. In the case of Biohm, waste materials are not only disposed of without harming the environment but their application in new processes is restorative whilst helping local industries to close the loop on their waste output. 


To better understand how businesses can actually achieve better financial performance and impact by being ‘regenerative’ as opposed to just ‘sustainable’, read Forbes magazine’s article, Beyond Sustainability: The Regenerative Business


What is biomanufacturing?

Biomanufacturing is a type of manufacturing or biotechnology that uses biological systems or naturally occurring processes to produce a product. In the case of Biohm, biological organisms (eg. mycelium) are used to produce an output (eg. insulation panels). In this way, they use nature to become their own mini factories.

What is “orb” and “mycelium”?

This phase of our partnership is basically exploratory in nature. Biohm will soon receive a sample of our material and they will set to work straight away to do some initial testing. They will trial hair in both their orb and mycelium processes and with varying percentages of hair to other materials.

 

 

Photos courtesy of BIOHM (left/top: orb; right/bottom: mycellium)

 

Orb stands for “organic refuse biocompound” and is “100% biodegradable, vegan, sustainable and renewable.” Biohm will transform our waste, hair, into a sort of homogeneous filler which they will combine with their special organic binding material. The result will be either uniform sheets which can be treated like wood (think: particleboard) or else moulded into 3D objects.


Mycelium, on the other hand, is “the vegative part of a fungus” and Biohm uses it to “grow” materials together with other waste sources. They will trial hair with mycelium to see if they can achieve a similar effect as when they make things like modular insulation panels, their speciality, as well as other 3D products. The applications, like that for orb, are limitless.


Then what?

Only after this exploratory study will Biohm be able to say for certain whether human hair waste is suitable for their processes and what sorts of products we could hope to co-produce. We expect a product development project to follow where we will collaborate not only with Biohm but hopefully also with other interested parties, for example architects and designers, to bring a series of unique products to market. 


We should have some updates for you as soon as February 2022!!


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Sources and further reading:

Biohm, multi-award-winning research and development led, biomanufacturing company.

Forbes magazine article, Beyond Sustainability: The Regenerative Business

Stephanie Hodgson