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Leather alternative replaces animal hide with pineapple leaves

We’re still a long way off producing a meat alternative that is cheap to mass produce, doesn’t involve any animals being killed, and that nobody can tell isn’t meat. However, when it comes to replacing leather we may have achieved just that, and in a very environmentally friendly way.

There’s a new leather alternative called Pinatex, and it has been developed over the past seven years by leather expert Dr Carmen Hijosa. During her time in the leather industry she came to realize how bad animal leather production was for the environment, and how poor quality leather has become in certain production locations such as the Philippines. So she set about replacing it.

Her solution was to use a suitable waste product which was abundant in the Philippines: pineapple leaves. Hijosa realized that pineapple leaves had both the strength and flexibility to form a non-woven substrate. That was seven years ago, and she now has a patented product called Pinatex that’s an animal-free alternative to leather. Not only that, but it relies on a product that was otherwise seen as waste.

Other alternatives to leather already exist, but they rely on petroleum. In order to produce Pinatex, Hijosa’s company Ananas Anam pays pineapple farmers to process the waste leaves and separate them into long fibers. Not only do they earn extra income from this, but the left over material from the fiber processing can be used as biomass.

As for uses for Pinatex, pretty much anything made from leather can be made from Pinatex instead. Shoes, handbags, seat coverings, you name it, Pinatex can probably be made into it. There’s currently three colors of Pinatex available: charcoal, natural, and brown. Pinatex Oro is the latest product line, which offers the same leather alternative, but in shiny, smooth metallic finishes including gold.

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