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Revolutionising the value chain to drive innovation: Applications of seaweed and the role of fashion

Can seaweed and sustainable fashion revolutionise value chain innovation?


Here’s what we learned when our Sustainability & Climate Change lead, Katherine Lampen, joined Prince William at The Earthshot Prize Awards in Singapore.

Game-changing and innovative solutions are the first step in driving a shift towards more sustainable value chains. To make impact at scale, these solutions need adequate strategic and financial support.

Partnering with game-changing and innovative solutions is the first step companies can take in driving a shift towards more sustainable value chains. To make impact at scale, innovative solutions need adequate strategic and financial support – that’s why we are proud to be partners of The Earthshot Prize.

The Prize is designed to find and grow such innovative solutions that will repair our planet this decade. Our team has been proud to be in the heart of the movement during the 2023 Earthshot Prize Awards in Singapore – generating conversations between innovators, businesses and organisations. At the Earthshot + thought leadership day, panellists discussed catalysts for scaling innovative solutions, including fascinating examples about seaweed and fashion, moving sustainable finance and value chain transformation.

Here are some of our key take-aways from the Earthshot+ sessions:

For more information on The Earthshot Prize and Deloitte’s role as an implementation partner, take a look at our first blog in this three-part series.

Here are some of our key take-aways from the Earthshot+ sessions:

Topic 1: The Untapped Power of Seaweed in Reshaping Our Value Chains


The 2022 winners of ‘Build a Waste Free World’, Notpla, demonstrated seaweed's potential to replace plastic packaging, reduce methane emissions, and provide clean energy. The 2023 ‘Fix our Climate’ finalist Sea Forest uses Asparagopsis, a raw seaweed, in its 'SeaFeed' supplement to reduce livestock farming emissions by up to 90%.

Despite the varied and impactful applications and benefits, seaweed is not widely understood or utilised. To achieve the necessary scale of seaweed production for wide scale application of its solutions, we’ve identified three key barriers that need to be overcome:

  1. Stock security: Seaweed requires particular conditions for growth, including the availability of sunlight and nutrients. It is also vulnerable to bacterial diseases that can wipe out entire crops. More advanced research into seaweed cultivation techniques is required to develop resilient crops and enable consistency of supply.
  2. Supply chain processing bottlenecks: Bottle necks across the supply chain can impact levels of consistency, leading buyers to select more traditional and less sustainable materials that are more readily available. Production capacity is also limited by the immaturity of infrastructure supporting the seaweed value chain. For example, in some geographies seaweed drying is a manual and weather-dependent process. Investments in technology to support the industrialisation of key production process are required to increase productivity and limit bottlenecks.
  3. Pricing and financial return: Due to the above challenges and lack of economies of scale, seaweed is expensive in comparison to other materials. Despite the low cost of labour, low income for seaweed producers is a common challenge due to the manual operations required and buyers in established markets monopolising supply, making it difficult to command a fairer price. The provision of financial incentives or tax deductions for farmers that recognise the environmental benefits of seaweed farming could be a potential solution to this challenge.

Topic 2: A look inside the Challenges, Drivers and Innovations of Fashion's Circular Future


In the build up to Earthshot +, we interviewed a range of stakeholders in the fashion industry on the key drivers and challenges to value chain transformation. On the day of the event, we also heard on the most prominent challenges and drivers to implementing a circular and sustainable fashion value chain.

Three key themes emerged in relation to sustainability and fashion:

1. Circularity: The fashion industry currently operates through a linear, high-inventory, high-waste value chain that is multifaceted and geographically scattered. Such value chain composition presents a challenge to implementing circularity in the industry, as currently less than 1% of fabric is repurposed into clothing products1. This causes sustainable fashion initiatives to often be ineffective. While luxury brands are increasingly incentivising promotion of sustainable fashion, the industry still largely consists of fast fashion brands accounting for 50% of its total environmental footprint2. Studies show that moving towards a sustainable value chain has the biggest advantages for manufacturers3. Circularity could drive cooperation among fast fashion manufacturers to systematically change the industry, and progressively integrate sustainable supply chain management practices.

2. Systemic change: To bring tangible change in the fashion value chain, there is a need for change at a systemic level. Drivers for systemic change are identified across:

  • Regulations and government standards. Regulatory policies such as labelling clothing products to reflect their environmental footprint and transparent disclosure of garments’ suppliers and materials can incentivise and enable change across the fashion industry. Regulations provide practice standards for brands and manufacturers alike, and a trustworthy blueprint for responsible consumers. There is an opportunity for governments and the public sector to cooperate with the fashion industry to define guidelines and sustainability disclosure requirements of garments.
  • Consumer attitudes. The fashion industry is dependent on customers’ purchasing preferences and power. Affordability of clothes is often the first factor considered by consumers and yet it correlates inversely to clothes’ sustainability. Consumers who can, must “act with their wallet” to incentivise purchase of responsible garments and clothing and drive change from the demand side.
  • Innovators and designers. Ultimately, enabling systemic change across the fashion industry requires integration of changes across the value chain. To do so, designers and technological innovators alike are fundamental to embed sustainability and circularity considerations across the garments they sketch and produce.

3. Innovation: Innovators like this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists Circ Inc. and Colorifix are pivotal to enabling circular sustainable fashion. Circ Inc. has developed a technology that separates cotton from polyester, so that polycotton garments are recyclable. Colorifix develops pigments using natural probiotics and reduced quantities of water, minimising the environmental impact of clothes dyeing. At Earthshot Week, the two solutions announced that they plan to collaborate to create a first highly sustainable garment made from both technologies.

Deloitte Sustainability & Climate Change lead Kat Lampen meeting HRH Prince William and Earthshot finalists.

Panels hosted and facilitated by HRH Prince William, Christiana Figueres - the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), representatives of Earthshot Prize finalists and winners Circ Inc., Colorifix, Sea Forest, AMPD Enertainer, and Deloitte Sustainability & Climate Change lead, Katherine Lampen.



1 Fashion and a circular economy | Ellen MacArthur Foundation

2 Wren, B. “Sustainable supply chain management in the fast fashion Industry: A comparative study of current efforts and best practices to address the climate crisis”. Cleaner Logistics and Supply Chain, 4 (2022).

3 Shi, X.; Qian, Y.; Dong, C. Economic and environmental performance of fashion supply chain: The joint effect of power structure and sustainable investment. Sustainability 2017, 9, 961. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]