Vegan leather – well, the majority of it – isn’t truly sustainable. While its material may not be made of animal skin, it is replaced with petroleum-based synthetic leather (PU leather), which isn’t biodegradable or compostable – and, thus, worse for the planet.
Fortunately, several initiatives have been trying to produce eco-friendly leather, such as Oddbird making handbags from leftover grape skins.
Kolkata-based material innovation company, Atma Leather, has developed plant-based leather from banana peels called Banofi (Mmm.. reminds me of Banoffee pie!).
Banofi founder Jinali Mody shared her struggle to find a sustainable leather bag, and she knew that most synthetic leather claiming to be vegan, was also made from petrochemical sources.
India is one of the world’s largest producers of bananas, but with all its produce comes an enormous amount of waste, generating four tonnes for every tonne of fruit. To put the waste to good use, the company upcycles the banana waste to manufacture plant-based leather.
“Our team saw a path to redefine the materials of the future by upcycling banana crop waste into premium leather products,” said Mody. “We are on a path to make luxury fashion sustainable.”
Banofi is made from 50 per cent stem waste and 30 per cent natural additives, while 20 per cent is made from recycled polymers required for the leather backing.
Compared to traditional leather, banana-based leather claims to have a significantly lower environmental impact, with 90 per cent fewer carbon emissions and 90 per cent less water required in the production process.
In addition, the company doesn’t emit toxic wastewater from manufacturing.
“We continue to innovate and reduce our dependence on polymers,” added Mody. “True sustainability is extremely challenging and is the mission we are deeply dedicated to.”
You may also be interested in reading: Texcoco creates eco-conscious bags from cactus leather.