In 2016 Bonaveri presented the very first biodegradable mannequin in the world.
The new mannequin was, and still is, a totally innovative product made of BPlast®, a bio-based polymer consisting of 72% sugarcane derivative and painted with BPaint® made solely of renewable, organic substances.
This innovation is the result of a long and ambitious research program launched by Bonaveri in 2012 under the name of BNatural.
“The pursuit of quality has always been at the centre of Bonaveri’s work. There cannot exist quality without responsibility. With this in mind, we launched an ambitious research project dedicated to reducing its CO2 emissions and environmental footprint” – says Andrea Bonaveri, CEO of the company.
With the collaboration of Polytechnic University of Milan, we conducted an analysis of the lifecycle of our mannequins, examining and measuring the impact of each stage of work: from pre-production to industrial production, packing and shipping of products around the world. Using this data, we were able to define a strategy focused on specific factors responsible for the largest environmental impact of our products: raw materials and lifecycle process.
And so it was that we embarked on the challenge to design and manufacture the first-ever mannequin made from a renewable, biodegradable, natural source.
With a mindful approach, Bonaveri selected as partners some of the most innovative research centres specializing in materials for the development of Bio Polymers and a leading company in its industry for the production of natural paints. This synergetic effort allowed us to create BPlast and BPaint.
Although it has been a challenging journey filled with surprises, the experience has served us well as today we are completely confident and capable of offering our customers a product that is just as sustainable as it is aesthetically impeccable
New mannequins in BPlast and BPaint have a reduced environmental impact compared to conventional mannequins made with petrochemical materials.
The primary benefits to the planet are as follows:
- Reduction in CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases responsible for global warming;
- Sugar cane, unlike fossil material, is a renewable material, the use of which does not deplete environmental resources;
- The biodegradability of the materials used in the mannequins makes them completely sustainable.
But the benefits do not end there as they directly affect the interests of fashion brands who use and therefore associate themselves to the philosophy behind these mannequins.
In fact, BPlast also helps to break down the carbon footprint of the companies that use it, therefore improving the buyer’s environmental performance.
Replacing mannequins made from petrochemical materials with those in BPlast, fashion brands have the opportunity to reduce their environmental footprint.
A comparison between two mannequins clearly shows the quantitative value of the benefits generated by substituting non-biodegradable mannequins with mannequins made in BPlast. Looking at the more relevant indicator as a cause of global warming – namely, the amount of CO2 released into the environment for each mannequin produced- the data processed by the Polytechnic University of Milan quantifies the reduction of CO2 emissions to be 25.72%.
Therefore mannequins in B Plast® allow companies that choose them to reduce their Carbon Footprint by 25.72%. Shop mannequins have a significant impact on the environmental footprint of fashion brands and intervening on their quality allows companies to act responsibly on a wider scale.
Promoting an increasingly circular system is fundamental to achieve concrete objectives, especially in a sector such as fashion, which has one of the highest environmental impacts in the world.
A reduction in emissions of this substance generally requires extremely arduous initiatives for companies that have to adopt emission reduction plans in accordance with agreements signed by the Members of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, known as COP 21.
The Polytechnic University of Milan research group (Design and System Innovation for Sustainability), within the DESIGN LeNS Department (Learning Network of Sustainability), under the leadership of Professor Carlo Vezzoli, operated according to the methodology of the Life Cycle Assessment individualizing the diverse impacts in relation to stages and lifecycle processes of system-products chosen.
The environmental impact assessment was intended to lay the basis for defining the design of priority intervention indicators.
The aim of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is to reduce the resources and emissions used throughout all the stages of product lifecycle (pre-production, production, distribution, use and disposal) in relation to the functional unit.
The LCA has highlighted two aspects of the life cycle of mannequins:
the material of origin that mannequins are made from and end of life of mannequins
Having quantitative and qualitative data capable of indicating the factors responsible for the environmental impact allowed Bonaveri to define the strategies capable of reducing such impact. And so they initiated the research project for the discovery of a natural material, both renewable and biodegradable.
Why select the approach of biopolymer rather than taking a recycling approach?
Bonaveri mannequin products are sold across five continents. Each country has adopted its own regulation in the collection and disposal of waste; each customer has policies that cannot all be standardized.
It cannot be guaranteed that all products are recycled or disposed properly at the end of their life, 15 years after purchase. In order to address this challenge, Bonaveri thought out to reduce the environmental impact through carefully selecting sustainable raw materials, so that in any scenario of disposal (incineration, landfill, recycling), the result would have virtually no environmental impact.
With regard to researching alternative innovative materials to use as opposed to plastics from fossil fuels, Bonaveri benefitted from the scientific and technical consultation from and collaboration with a European institution specialized in the research for new materials. This exciting initiative verified the compatibility of the production processes of the mannequins with the technical characteristics of the most advanced and state of the art biopolymers available.
To date, the production of the mannequins is performed through extrusion blow moulding of plastics. Specifically, the mannequins are produced in polystyrene (HIPS) or polystyrene-butadiene copolymer (SBC) through the blow-moulding process, after which the same polymer exits from an extruder into a tubular shape and is partially shaped by hand by a qualified technician.
In order to substitute conventional plastic materials, Bonaveri turned to using materials that were either completely or mostly derived from renewable resources and able to be processed by extrusion and blow moulding, as well as being completely biodegradable at the end of their life cycle.
Four years of research paved the way to the mindful selection and registration of PLA biopolymer as the most suitable material for the production process of Bonaveri mannequins.
BPlast is a biodegradable bioplastic (ISO 14855) made up of 72% sugar cane derivative. The production of mannequins in BPlast reduces CO2 emissions compared to petrochemical plastics commonly used.
This biopolymer has been subjected to stringent checks by the Belgian certification institution, Vinçotte (Tüv Austria) that issued the “OK BIOBASED” 3 Star Certification, which certifies the percentage of renewable source material present in the product.
The remaining 28% is made up of monomers of BIO-BASED origin.
To date, the percentage of biobased composition of 72% (Biobased Carbon Content) is the highest coefficient in the relationship between natural and non-natural material. A relationship that allows the polymer to retain technical characteristics and performance suitable for the production of mannequins.
The choice not to create a product that is 100% biobased is the result of prudent technical evaluations as many biobased monomers are available in the market, but only in their experimental version, this, therefore, does not guarantee a sound level of performance excellence required by Bonaveri standards.
BPaint is the first biocompatible paint made exclusively from renewable organic materials.
BPaint consists of 100% natural raw materials, and it is free of any petrol-based substances. This exemplifies unequivocal innovation in using natural paints without compromising quality and performance in any way.
BPaint has been subjected to stringent checks by the Belgian certification institution, Vinçotte (Tüv Austria) that issued the “OK BIOBASED” 4 star certification that certifies the material is produced from 100% renewable sources.
- Plant resins and oils;
- Plant-based surfactants that do not contain phosphorous;
- 100% vegetable solvent obtained from orange peel using physical processes;
- Cobalt-salt and naphtha-free desiccants based on a new water technology.
A sustainable packaging is the essential complement of a sustainable product. For this reason in 2016, with the aim of improving its environmental performance, Bonaveri started a collaboration with the University of Bologna to define an eco-friendlier packaging system. Following an in-depth LCA analysis of the entries production cycle, the packaging was infact one of the most critical and impactful factors from a sustainability point of view.
The new packaging developed through this collaborative research led to a complete change of materials and design. Gaining to Bnaveri a packaging that is made with sustainable materials, with a lower weight – that reduce te consume of energy needed for transport – a significant optimization of the box measurement in order to increase the efficiency in the logistic process, and a sharp reduction packaging time.
It provides an impressive 40% reduction in CO2 emissions, 37% reduction of energy consumption and 56% decrease in water usage.