Circular Economy

How Pinatex makes leather from pineapple fibre – video


Photo credit: Pineapple Supply Co. via Unsplash.

By Jeremy Williams

Pinatex is a sustainable alternative leather made out of the waste parts of a pineapple plant. It’s one of those ideas that are good for people and for the planet, improving incomes for farmers and producing a truly circular economy material.

Leather is complicated. It’s an animal product, which raises questions about animal cruelty and death. It also requires a lot of chemicals and water, and tanning is a notoriously noxious process. While working as a consultant to the leather industry in the Philippines, a Spanish designer called Dr Carmen Hijosa was shocked at the toll the business took on people’s health and on the natural environment. She began to investigate alternatives, and over the next seven years, she developed Pinatex and the Ananas-Anam company to market it.

Hijosa’s new material takes the long fibres from pineapple plants, a common crop in the Philippines. Pineapples only flower and fruit once, so after the pineapples have been harvested the plant and its leaves are a waste product. Usually, they would be burned or piled up to rot down, but using them for Pinatex has created a secondary income stream for farmers.

The fibres are extracted from the leaves – 480 leaves per metre of material – and the biomass that remains is composted. The fibres are felted into a versatile material that has been used to make shoes, bags, wallets, clothes and upholstery. It’s still very niche, but keep an eye out for it.

First published on Make Wealth History.

1 reply »

  1. It is now the year 2020…..
    After product is Not biodegradable. The plant and material for processing is great. As per Wikipedia and others who’ve been to the philippines and know these pineapple farmer and small farms…

    Sustainability it is not.
    Piñatex is currently NOT biodegradable.It is composed of a mixture of pineapple leaves, PLA (Polylactic acid), and petroleum-based resins.[1] PLA, also known as bio-plastic, is sourced from renewable resources and is commonly labeled ‘biodegradable’. However, the United Nations Environmental Programme issued a report in 2015 concluding, “The adoption of plastic products labelled as ‘biodegradable’ will not bring about a significant decrease either in the quantity of plastic entering the ocean or the risk of physical and chemical impacts on the marine environment, on the balance of current scientific evidence.”[9] Petroleum and its byproducts, such as the one used in Piñatex, have raised environmental concerns (see Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change).


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