PASSION FOR PINEAPPLE
How do pineapples become Pinatex, an innovative material used to replace leather?
It all started with Dr. Carmen Hijosa, a leather expert who discovered that the leather industry in the Philippines had two main problems:
first, the leather produced was of poor quality and second, the production itself is bad for the environment and the communities involved.
Travelling around the country, she realised that the Philippines grows a lot of pineapples and therefore are left with a huge quantity of pineapple leaves.
It appeared that pineapple fibres are strong and flexible enough to handle the manufacturing process she had in mind to turn the leaves into a plant-based alternative to leather.
Piñatex, the final material took 7 years to come to life:
Hijosa left her work in the traditional leather industry and spent those years at the Royal College of Art in London developing the material into a patented product while she earned her PhD.
The Forward Lab & Piñatex
You can discover products made from Piñatex in our Forward collaboration with the brand Liwan: shoes and belts exclusively on our website subject to availability.
See image above
Piñatex Manufacturing process
Piñatex is a byproduct of agriculture, meaning it is a total waste product.
The pineapple industry globally produces 13 million tons of waste of which 40K tons of leaves which are usually burned or left to rot.
In other words, to produce Piñatex, no extra land, water, pesticides or fertilizers is used. A waste material is actually processed which adds value to it.
16 Pineapple plants ——> 480 Pineapple leaves ——> 1m2 of Piñatex
Piñatex Social Value
Another non-negligible advantage of Piñatex is that those pineapple leaves which would normally be wasted are turned into an extra income for farmers. Normally, farmers would have to rely on seasonal harvest but being part of the manufacturing process of Piñatex allow them to have a 2nd source of income.
In addition, after farmers take the first step in processing the leaves, separating the fibres, they also end up with biomass that can be used as fertilizer back in their pineapple fields.
Piñatex VS conventional leather
During the manufacturing process of conventional leather called tanning over 250 different toxic heavy metals and chemicals are used such as aldehyde, cyanide and lead. These substances are very harmful to the health of workers as well as the environment.
For more information on Piñatex