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Students succeed in thirst for innovation with regenerative wine bottle

by Sasha Sweatman

A regenerative wine bottle derived from the remains of grapes designed by RMIT students has won a finalist position at the 2020 City of Melbourne Open Innovation competition and a spot in the RMIT Activator LaunchHub program.

T’Wine – a concept focused on upcycling waste produced by the wine industry, was created by Master of Design Innovation and Technology (MDIT) students Amanda Pacheco Bravo, Shimroth John Thomas and Joseph Oliver Yap.

The RMIT Activator LaunchHUB offers a 12-week program that will give the group financial, legal and business support in the leadup to a launch.

The students completed the project in a biodesign studio run by Industry Fellow and Lecturer Dr Ollie Cotsaftis.

The studio was focused on the circular economy and was linked to the Biodesign Challenge in New York.

Tapping into millenial’s shared interest in the environment, support for small businesses, and celebration of innovation, the students developed a suite of products including reusable bottles, an app, and an urban winery where bottles can be refilled and composted.

The bottles are derived from the solid remains of grapes after vinifcation and are fully organic and biodegradeable at end of their use.

Thomas said the group began by exploring biopolymers for the concept while keeping in mind a circular approach.

“We made a conscious effort to choose a waste material that wouldn’t compete with a food source. This led us to grape waste, Australia’s largest horticultural waste sector,” Thomas said.

Program Manager and Associate Professor Ross McLeod said these elements contributed to the success of the project.

“Through its integration of sustainable biodesign approaches with the complimentary design of a service-based app, the project succesfully combines innovative ideas on both a physical and digital level,” McLeod said.

Creative solutions that otherwise might not have been considered were generated by studio leader Cotsaftis.

Cotsaftis also won the award for 2020 Biodesign Challenge Outstanding Instructor and in 2019, a contingent of his students won the Orta Prize for Bioinspired Textiles Processes.

“With Ollie’s help and by working with a cross-disciplinary team, we found inspiration and solutions that we could not have achieved on our own,” Yap said.

Pacheco said being shortlisted in the City of Melbourne competition and winning a spot in the LaunchHUB program was a gratifying experience.

“To be recognised for our hard work gave us hope that students can really make a difference when given the space to think outside the box,” Pacheco said.

“This extra support from RMIT means that T’Wine and our vision can come to life.”

Cotsaftis said the success of T’Wine also highlights the opportunities available for future biodesigners.

“Winning a spot in the LaunchHUB program is paving the way for the next generation of biodesigners,” said Cotsaftis.

T’Wine are in the process of contacting stakeholders in the wine industry and preparing for the LaunchHUB program which begins in November.

This article orginally appeared on the RMIT website.