Changing the world with a piece of thread… | Sunday Observer

Changing the world with a piece of thread…

Dr. Anura Rathnayake, the avant-garde Sri Lankan scientist from the University of Moratuwa has won 3rd place at the ‘Global Change Award,’ with his revolutionary innovation, ‘Content Thread’, which facilitates sorting and recycling of clothes using a digital thread.

It is an event organized annually by the H&M Foundation, and was held on April 5 at the ‘City Hall’ in Stockholm, Sweden.

The competition was carried out to encourage the introduction of game changing new technologies that are safe, sustainable and promote climate positivity.

Dr. Anura Rathnayake, who went off to win the world prize despite the fact he was born in a remote village in Sri Lanka, developed his concept and competed against approximately, 3,000 revolutionary technological concepts presented by 130 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan. His bold creativity and disruptive innovation that made the ‘Content Thread’ concept stand out among other innovations and brought immense pride to the motherland is truly an inspiration to everyone.

His concept addresses one of the major barriers in textile recycling, which is, not knowing what the clothes are made of. Even though natural ingredients are mostly used in manufacturing textile, at the end of its life cycle, they are thrown into the waste system making the Textile Industry the second biggest contributor to pollution. Attempts taken to recycle the textile waste deem useless mainly because of the complexity of the ingredients used to produce readymade products. When a garment is sorted incorrectly, it can obstruct the whole recycling process and all these facts have turned Textile Recycling into an expensive and a difficult task. But, this is where the ‘Content Thread’ concept comes in.

In this concept, by attaching a digital tag to each garment at manufacturing stage, a digitized ‘ingredients list’ that gives recyclers all the information needed to recycle the garment, are created.

The tag which is in the form of an RFID thread, looks and feels much like a normal thread and lasts over the garment’s lifetime, driving economic improvements that reduce waste throughout the entire supply chain, and powering the recycling process at end of life. The ‘Content Thread’ will save precious natural resources, help reinvent and speed up the shift to a circular waste-free fashion industry and could be used in a wide range of fields such as medical, automotive, military, naval, etc.

The Global Change Award judge board as well as world famous researchers believe this will be the start to a new era in the Textile and Fashion Designing Industry.

Dr. Rathnayake’s road to success was rather rough and filled with obstacles and his life story, to become a man who revolutionizes the world leaves us awed. Rathnayake Mudiyanselage Anura Sarathchandra Rathnayake, lived in a remote village called Nikawewa in the Welioya area which was under the terrorists’ grip for three decades. He is the eldest of four and received his primary education at Buddhangala Madhya Maha Vidyalaya in Padaviya, Parakramapura.

At a time when education was merely a dream, he made it his sole aim to win with an immense interest and effort in studies. Neither the cruel war nor the oppression could destroy his tenacity.

Dr. Rathnayake passed the G. C. E. A/L Examination in the Mathematics stream with excellent grades and may have been the only student from a remote border village, selected to the Engineering Faculty of the University of Moratuwa, then.

Considering poverty to be a blessing, he went on to become one of the brightest students in the University of Moratuwa and received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 2002. In 2004 he moved to England and received his Master of Science in Engineering in 2007 at the University of Bolton.

Not stopping there, on June 21, 2015, he received his Postgraduate Degree related to new researches and his Doctorate Degree related to a new dimension of electronic, smart textiles from Nottingham Trent University in England, crowning himself with the highest qualification in his education journey.

His inspirational story of being born in a rural village and having gone through great difficulties while securing four degrees and becoming an international award winning scientist is an eye opener to us all. (P.R)

(Pix: Nissanka Wijeratne)