UK-based supplier of artificial green walls, Vistafolia, has launched a new project in collaboration with the University of Surrey KTP to develop a more sustainable material from which to make their artificial plants. Vistafolia’s true-to-nature green wall panels reproduce the movement and texture of living walls. The walls are customised to fit the individual needs of the space and location, and are made up of a mix of shapes and hues that add colour and dimension. The new base polymer must maintain the aesthetics and design standards of the polymer currently used, without compromising on safety aspects, such as fire retardancy.
This project is being co-funded by Innovate UK, as part of the wider Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme and by Vistafolia as part of their wider investment. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme is a UK scheme that brings together academics with businesses to propel industry advancement and create competitive advantages, using researcher knowledge to assist in the development of new products or projects for companies.
Team members from Vistafolia, KTP and the University of Surrey are cooperating on the development of a new formulation in which, among others, the current fire-retardant additive will also be replaced by a more environmentally friendly version that will enhance the product’s recyclability.
The aim is to develop a biopolymer that will yield a more sustainable artificial plant that offers the same quality and properties as the company’s current products.
According to Vistafolia, artificial green walls are low maintenance products that eliminate the use of 189 litres of water per year (per sqm of green wall compared to living plants) and require no fertiliser or pesticides. Using a bioplastic would add to these favourable qualities by replacing the
70 tonnes of oil-based plastic annually used in production per year by Vistafolia with the new bio-polymer formulation - thereby achieving net carbon neutrality for these products.
“We hope to drive sustainability in the sector and encourage our competitors to focus on sustainability as a key issue while pushing the environmental boundaries in R&D and production,” said Paul Alder, managing director of Vistafolia. “We are incredibly excited to be working with the University of Surrey on this revolutionary research project […] to accelerate the creation of a more sustainable product offering for our clients.”