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Fashion fruit? Ananas Anam launches vegan leather alternative from pineapple leaves

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03 Jan 2019 — Ananas Anam has created Piñatex, a sustainable and vegan alternative to leather. Piñatex is a textile woven from the long fibers in discarded and unused pineapple leaves. Waste from the top ten pineapple-producing countries could theoretically replace over 50 percent of global leather output, according to the company.

In order to make one square meter of the sustainable fabric, 460 pineapple leaves would be required, yet there is no shortage of raw materials. And according to statistics portal Statistica, global pineapple production topped 25 million tons back in 2016. 

Ananas Anam works with pineapple farmers in the Philippines who harvest and strip the fibers, which are finished into Piñatex fabric in Spain. No extra land, water or pesticides are required to produce the end material. 

“It’s its own material. When it gets wet it dries like leather and behaves like leather in every way except it’s completely sustainable,” says Altiir’s Creative Director Timothy Turner-Sutton. All of smaller-scale Altiir’s biker-style jackets are made from Piñatex.

Click to EnlargeAltiir UKAnanas Anam was founded in 2015 by Carmen Hijosa, the creator of the sustainable fabric, who spent eight years working on its development. 

“Because of its characteristics, it is very fine, strong and flexible. My idea was ‘what if I make a mesh with these fibers,’ not unlike what leather is,” Hijosa claims. “And that was the beginning of this new ‘fashion’ material.”

“People come in and they are intrigued by it. At first and very often they think it’s real leather and then they touch it and it doesn’t feel like leather,” says Turner-Sutton.

Clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags and even furniture can be made from the fabric. The applications of Piñatex span across all traditional uses of leather, says the company.

“The next step is to move into the commercial upholstery market and then the automotive as well as diversify our product range by adding different finishes and colors,” Ananas Anam Sales and Marketing Manager, Ceri Rees, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Apart from the animal cruelty angle of traditional leather production, the chemicals used in tannery also produce high amounts of pollutants.

High-profile opponents to the use of animal products include British designer Stella McCartney, who has said the fashion industry needs to radically cut the damage it is doing to the environment.

Click to EnlargeLISELORE FROWIJN NETHERLANDS

Ananas Anam is building a strong social media presence with over 60,000 combined Instagram and Facebook followers. Tapping into the need for sustainability and ethical vegan leather that consumers increasingly shift towards, the company is marketing Piñatex as a sustainable, vegan-friendly alternative material with a transparent supply chain. 

Despite its many properties, Piñatex is not waterproof like leather, but water resistant and it only needs a certain amount of care to be preserved, according to the company.

The need to reuse and repurpose food waste has increasingly been brought to the fore as the mammoth levels of waste produced continue to attract global attention. A recent study has identified that human errors caused by a lack of standardized procedures and insufficient training are the primary drivers behind loss in food manufacturing, for example.

by Kristiana Lalou


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