Pinatex – Is Pineapple Leather The Fabric Of The Future?
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Pinatex or in other words pineapple leather is about the change the whole leather industry. The plant based leather fabric is far superior when it comes to sustainability and longevity when treated correctly. Having a quite unique but similar texture to animal skin leather it takes way less resources and is more eco friendly.
What is Pinatex?
Piñatex® by Ananas Anam is the company patented name for pineapple leather. Pinatex is a natural, non-woven material made from pineapple leaf fibre. The leaves are the by-product of existing agriculture and fruit industry, which are otherwise thrown away.
Piñatex® is a natural, sustainably sourced and cruelty free material.
Dr. Carmen Hijosa developed this material after years of research and testing with her team in London U.K where the company is still based. After years of working in the leather industry she decided it was time for change and innovation.
First of all, the production process is patented by Carmen Hijosa and can only be produced and supplied by Ananas Anam. Piñatex® is entirely made from pineapple leaves. Everything starts in the Philippines, where local farmers collect pineapple leaves in order to make pineapple leather out of it. The pineapple industry globally produces about 13 million tonnes waste of which 40.000 tonnes are pineapple leaves, which usually are burned or rotted. Ananas Anam uses this pineapple leaves and extracts the fibre in order to create Pinatex leather. One part of the plant goes to the grocery store and the other part, instead of getting wasted, is processed to leather. Decortication is the process called when the cellulose fibres of the leaves get extracted. This process still takes places at the farm in order to further reduce C02 emissions. Our partner Ananas Anam has development an own machine for this process, in order to help the farmers to get the most out of the pineapple leaves. The biomass left over after removing the fibre is not wasted either. It is a very nutrient rich natural fertiliser for the soil. It basically gets used as a biofuel. The extracted fibers now get washed and dried. After the fibers have dried, they are degummed (pectin gets released from the fiber). Pectin is the molecule that makes the leaves stiff. Once the pectin has been removed, the pineapple fiber becomes a soft and flexible, cotton-like material. Thereafter, the fibers become a non-woven mesh by stinging thousands of needles into the fibers in an industrial, mechanical process to produce a felt-like structure. However, the process is the base of Piñatex®. Then the raw Piñatex® gets shipped to Spain where it is further processed into a leather like material, using a special process. It gives Piñatex® the feel surface and durability of leather. This is the final step and then the material which is packed in rolls gets delivered directly to exclusive designer and brands like us.
16 Pineapple Plants / 480 Pineapple Leaves = 1m2 of Pinatex Pineapple Leather
The manufacturing process of Pinatex does not only reduce waste but it also creates and extra income source for the pineapple farmers in the Philippines. Normally farmers would have to rely on seasonal harvest but being part of the manufacturing process of pinatex allow them to have a second source of income. Additionally, they can use the leftover biomass to further fertilize their soil and improve their plantation. At this moment all the pineapple leaves for pinatex come from the Philippines which is the #1 country for pineapple export. Since there are many more pineapple exporting countries Ananas Anam is doing their best to expand to more countries all over the world.
Piñatex® provides an additional income stream for pineapple farmers
During the manufacturing process of conventional leather called tanning over 250 different toxic heavy metals and chemicals are used such as aldehyde, cyanide and lead. These substances are very harmful to the health of workers as well as the environment. Other alternatives are like PU or PVC leather are not significantly better either. Both cause a lot of damage to the environment during the manufacturing process and are hard to dispose. On the other hand, Piñatex® uses no heavy metals, chemicals or toxic substances that could potentially harm the environment, animals or the people that process it. It takes way less water and other resources and the overall environmental impact is way better.
~ 13 million tonnes of waste from global pineapple agriculture every year
Pinatex / Pineapple Leather vs. Animal Leather
Compared to animal leather or synthetic leather (i.e PU leather) pineapple leather is way more sustainable and eco friendly. CO2 emission are way less and the environmental impact is far smaller than compared to conventional leather. This is partly due to the fact that pineapple leaves get recycled but also because the animal and synthetic leather manufacturing process require a lot of chemicals and other harmful substances. Beyond all that pinatex / pineapple leather is far more ethical. No animals or humans (sad that we have to mention that) are harmed during the manufacturing process.
Source : https://danandmez.com/blog/pinatex/