Is this *THE* most sustainable vegan

Is this *THE* most sustainable vegan "leather"?

July 18, 2021
By Jessica Kruger
Founder, LUXTRA
.

In recent weeks here on the blog we have looked at apple and cactus "leather". We've seen that these two materials are made in similar ways: basically plant mush + polyurethane. Today we are looking at Piñatex

So by now I'm guessing your train of thought goes something like this: "yeah, yeah, we get it: different fruit, same vegan leather..."

Well, my dears... NOT SO FAST!

 

Piñatex products

A few LUXTRA items made from Piñatex. 

 

You see, Piñatex - the original cool fruit leather - is a hard wearing material made almost entirely from pineapple leaf fibres.

How on earth do they create it? Well, pictures tell a thousand words. so let's have a look...

 

Pinatex pineapples pre-harvest
Pineapples are one of the world's most consumed fruit - especially popular in The Philippines, Brazil, India & China.

 

Piñatex is made from the leaves left over after pineapples have been harvested. If your pineapple harvesting knowledge is not up to date, let me refresh you:

To harvest a pineapple, you cut the fruit off from the plant, leaving a mass of leaves at the base. Normally these leaves are burnt, or thrown away - they are seen as worthless. But not for Piñatex: they collect the leaves, which are to become the basis of their eco-friendly material.

 Pineapple leaves after harvest
.Cut the pineapple from the base and you're left with *a lot* of leaves.

 

The next step in the process is "threshing" the leaves to reveal their long fibrous strands. These strands are washed and then hung out to dry under the sun.

.Pinatex threshing and drying
Threshing & drying.

 

The fibres are then combed & purified. They are then mechanically knitted into a kind of felt (adorably named Piñafelt) and then topped with a protective coloured coating, ready for brands like LUXTRA to purchase. 

Any eco-connoisseur worth their salt will immediately be suspicious about this top coat. And rightly so... it's often where the nasty chemical hide, so I want to go into a bit more depth here. If you're uninterested, do skip down.

The top coat applied varies according to the colour and the type of Piñatex, of which there are 3 general categories:

1) Original, Pluma and Mineral collections
2) Metallic collection (this is the type we use at Luxtra)
3) Piñatex "Performance"
(you can see more details on their store website here)
I've listed the compositions below, by category. Piñatex also states: 
To make the Original, Pluma and Mineral collections, the Piñafelt is coloured using GOTS certified pigments and a resin top coating is applied to give additional strength, durability and water resistance. A foil is heat pressed on to create the Metallic collection and a high solid PU transfer coating is used to create Piñatex Performance.
Composition (ORIGINAL, PLUMA & MINERAL)

72% PALF (Pineapple Leaf Fibre)
18% PLA (Polylactic Acid)
  5% Bio PU
  5% PU

Composition (METALLIC)

72% PALF (Pineapple Leaf Fibre)
18% PLA (Polylactic Acid)
10% PU

Composition (PERFORMANCE)
46% PALF (Pineapple Leaf Fibre)
36% PU
12% PLA (Polylactic Acid)
  6% Bio PU  
For LUXTRA I've choose to use the Metallic collection as I find it the most attractive version. In my view, the Original and Pluma versions are not quite as appealing to customers as they've a matte, slightly papery feel.
What I'm trying to do with LUXTRA is appeal to a large number of people who are interested in sustainability (I call them the light greens) but who are not eco warriors (whom I call dark greens). I believe to have the most impact it's critical to appeal to larger numbers of people, warming them up to the idea that forgoing real leather could actually be fun and cool. This is my reason for using the metallic Piñatex which can be seen as less eco-friendly compared to the classic collections. 
 Pinafelt & finishingCombed, purified & felted.
.

Not only is Piñatex arguably the most sustainable leather alternative on the market, the material has an impressive positive social impact story that other material companies can only dream of.

The company pays Filipino pineapple farmers for their agro-waste and involves them in the subsequent processing, enabling the farmers to increase and diversify their income. Upcycling the leaves also helps with the farmland's waste management, unburdening them from what was previously seen as a waste product.

 

Piñatex colour optionsA few of the colours available in the Piñatex range.

 

As a solo female founder, the cherry on top of working with Piñatex is that it's also a fellow female-founded and owned business. It's very refreshing to work with a company that is run by women - a rare jewel in the trillion dollar fashion industry.

I've met Dr Carmen Hijosa, the founder of Piñatex, on a few occasions, and I can tell you it's incredibly inspiring to listen to the way she speaks about creating an ever-more sustainable material.

 

Dr Carmen Hijosa

Pinatex founder, Dr Carmen Hijosa (striped top) with pineapple farmers.

 

Before we part, I'll leave you with a piece of trivia: 

To make 1 square metre of Piñatex, you need the leaf waste of 16 pineapple plants which corresponds to about 480 leaves. Can you even imagine!?

~ ~ ~

 

SHOP LUXTRA'S PIÑATEX COLLECTION

 

LUXTRA vegan Piñatex ladies wallet

 

 

← Older Post Newer Post →