Innovation That Matters

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Bio-leather made from apples, lemons, and barley

Fashion & Beauty

A process transforms wood cellulose and beverage industry waste into beautiful new materials

Spotted: Leather in all its forms – traditional, synthetic, and bio-based – is a growing industry expected to reach a value of $700 billion by 2030. Tanning animal hides to create leather is incredibly polluting, however, and synthetic leathers often require plastic additives to achieve the desired strength and feel of the final material.  

Circularly produced, sustainable leather is a particularly innovative part of the industry with alternatives to traditional leather made from a range of materials. One company, VEGATEX, produces vegan leather made from beverage industry biowaste. As long as the drinks industry remains in business, VEGATEX expects to have feedstock for its production process. 

Currently, VEGATEX leathers are available in three styles. AppleSkin, LemonSkin, and BarleySkin come in a variety of colours and all three versions are fully animal-free. VEGATEX uses cellulose from wood pulp for the bottom of the leather, with beverage production waste mixed with water-based polyurethane forming the top layer. This beverage waste includes apple pomace from apple juice production, lemon pomace left over from lemonade and lemon juice production, or beer brewing waste. The company’s proprietary technology binds the two layers together before the material is processed for colour, texture, and finish. 

LemonSkin is the palest VEGATEX material and therefore is most suitable for bright finishing colours. BarleySkin is produced through a partnership with Budweiser APAC using the brewer’s saved grain and can be used for a range of darker colours, including black.    

The company is working to ascertain the biodegradability of its materials as well as put into place regular life cycle assessments for full transparency regarding the carbon footprint of its production processes.  

Other improvements to the leather industry highlighted by Springwise in the innovation library include an alternative material made from agricultural waste and a circular recycling process.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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