Apple Leather is here! Slag can also be made into shoes and bags

Do you recognize what's in the jar below?

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

That's right, it's apple juice. Where does the leftover residue go after the apple is juiced? Turned into kitchen waste?

No, there are other places for these apple scraps, they can also be turned into shoes and bags.

Apple pomace is misplaced 'leather' material

Are shoes and bags still made from animal skins?

The pattern is open!

The raw material for making leather, has slowly emerged a lot of plant-based, they are also known as Vegan Leather (vegan leather).

Vegan Leather refers to those leather products that are 100% free of animal ingredients and animal footprints, and do not undergo any animal testing in the manufacturing materials and production processes.

On the market now, there are grapes, pineapples, and mushrooms…

Especially mushrooms, in addition to eating, have developed in full swing in other industries in the past two years. Big brands such as lululemon, Hermes and Adidas have all launched "mushroom leather" products made from the "mycelium" of mushrooms.

▲ Hermes' "Mushroom Bag", picture from: Robb Report

In addition to these plants, as a by-product of the apple juice industry, the "apple leather" caused by apple residues such as pits and peels that are not needed for making juice has gradually become the "dark horse" in Vegan Leather.

Brands such as Sylven New York, SAMARA and Good Guys Don't Wear Leather all have apple leather products called "Apple Leather" or "AppleSkin".

They gradually use apple leather as one of their main materials.

▲ Picture from: SAMARA

Industrial-scale apple juice production leaves a mushy pulp (composed of cellulose fibers) after the apples are juiced.

These brands convert residues such as pits and peels from the manufacture of apple juice from Europe (mostly from Italy) into pulp, which is then mixed with organic solvents and polyurethane and bonded to fabrics to make leather-like fabrics .

▲ Picture from: Sylven New York

Structurally, "apple leather" shares many of the same properties as animal leather, but its production process has nothing to do with animals, and it has small advantages that other plant-based leathers don't have.

For example, an excellent feel closer to genuine leather.

▲ Picture from: Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

SAMARA founder Salima Visram works with a factory in Europe to produce apple leather for her bag line.

According to Salima's experiment, the natural thick apple leather is particularly suitable for making bags and shoes.

Mushroom leather, which has been popular in recent years, can adjust the quality of the finished product such as weight or feel by controlling the growth of mushrooms, and mushrooms that can be quickly regenerated are easier to obtain than apple by-products.

▲ Picture from: Samara

However, mushroom leather has a slightly different texture that not all designers like.

"We tried mushroom leather, pineapple leather and coconut leather, but it didn't have the feel we wanted," says Salima.

Some people say that garbage is a misplaced resource.

In this way, apple remnants that may become kitchen waste are also misplaced "leather" raw materials.

What kind of leather should we use?

From apple scraps to shoes and bags, what has leather experienced over the years?

As we all know, people have a long history of using leather, and most of them use animal leather.

However, with the progress of society, the development of civilization, the protection of animal rights, environmental protection, sustainability… For various reasons, more and more people have begun to reduce or even not use animal leather products.

▲ Picture from: Eco Warrior Princess

Therefore, the development of another industry has also been born – Vegan Leather (vegan leather).

As mentioned earlier, Vegan Leather is 100% free of animal ingredients and animal footprints in its manufacturing materials and production processes, and does not conduct any animal testing.

In short, an animal-friendly leather.

▲ Picture from: Green Matters

However, being friendly to animals does not mean being friendly to the environment.

The more common artificial leathers such as PVC and PU can be regarded as Vegan Leather in a broad sense (there is no animal participation in the production process), but their raw materials come from petroleum, and the production process also produces many substances that are harmful to the environment.

▲ Picture from: Senreve

Animal leather can be avoided, but it cannot be taken to the other extreme.

Isn't there a way to be both environmentally friendly and animal friendly, and still meet people's needs for leather?

Of course, there is a way to make leather from plants that are more friendly to the environment. So far, the results are quite good.

But the birth of every new thing is often not very smooth, the same is true for plant-based leather, mushroom leather grows cycle blocks, and the quality is controllable, but not as good as apple leather.

▲ Picture from: MycoWorks

What about Apple Leather, which feels great in the hand? Does it have only advantages? Not quite.

"Apple Leather" wants to rise, but there are many difficulties

For the apple juice manufacturing industry, these apple residues are waste, and as a result, many resources are wasted every year.

"Apple Leather" turns apple residues into bio-based leather substitutes, which is also a secondary use.

However, it may not be as friendly to the environment as you might think.

Take Sylven New York's apple leather sneakers, which, in addition to apple leather, have a lining made from wheat and corn by-products, a sole made from corn husks and tree sap, and organic cotton laces.

▲ Picture from: Sylven New York

In addition to these organic ingredients, Apple leather shoes are also 50% polyurethane (PU), after all, shoes also need a fabric backing to support the weight of the body.

In other words, in today's production process, the use of chemicals is still inevitable.

▲ Picture from: Sylven New York

According to the existing production process, only about 20-30% of the materials of apple leather products are apples.

And how much pollution will be produced in the production process is also unknown.

The official website of the Good Guys Don't Wear Leather brand has this paragraph:

AppleSkin materials are produced by recycling this otherwise discarded waste and converting it into final materials. The exact process is a trade secret, but we know that cellulose effectively "fills in" the amount of raw material needed to make AppleSkin. Fewer virgin materials means less natural resources are extracted from the earth, lower emissions and lower energy consumption throughout the supply chain.

It can be seen that pollution in the production process is still an unavoidable problem.

However, the obstacles encountered on the road to the rise of "Apple Leather" do not stop there.

▲ Picture from: Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

Brands that own Apple leather products are almost unable to fulfill large-scale orders because of the fact that there are not so many raw materials.

Most of the apple by-products currently sourced come from Europe, where the recycling infrastructure is better at handling food waste. And factories can produce only a limited number of dyes to choose from.

As the saying goes, "A clever woman can't cook without rice", without raw materials, where can you get the bag?

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

Production is limited, which usually means higher costs.

Currently, products made from apple leather are generally more expensive than non-apple leather products.

For example, the production cost of the SAMARA apple leather bag is 20-30% higher than that of other vegan leather products (the consumer price can even be doubled).

▲ Picture from: SAMARA

Ashley Kubley, director of the Fashion Technology Center at the University of Cincinnati, said: "Ninety-nine percent of leather is made from by-products of the food industry, and it's a symbiotic relationship. To this end, many meat processing plants have on-site tanneries to consolidate the process, a relationship that saves an estimated 7.3 million tons of biowaste from landfills each year.

That said, the industry must also change if it wants to produce apple leather products on a large scale.

▲ Picture from: SAMARA

As an industrial product, apple leather is an ideal compromise between environmental friendliness and animal friendliness.

But as a new thing, if you want to develop and grow, there are also problems that need to be solved urgently.

Although apple leather is not perfect at present, it represents a new possibility: high-quality leather products and environmental sustainability may be able to have both.

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