Leather is a common product seen in everyday items from clothes, shoes, bags and wallets. Although leather is a byproduct of meat produced, 17 kg of carbon dioxide emissions is produced per square meter of leather. However, that is not the only leather available in the market that profits the leather industry. Synthetic leather made from plastic is also very common as a cheaper substitute. Synthetic leather produces 15 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per square meter of leather. That leaves the remaining question, is it possible to enjoy luxury goods made from leather without the environmental effects; essentially find a balance? The answer is vegan leather made from waste materials that would be thrown.
Over half of the mangoes in Europe are traded or imported by the Netherlands. Around 1,500 mangoes go to waste each week because of the quality control process. One company founded the idea to take mangos that would be thrown out and use the pulp to make vegan leather. Different mangos produced different colors of leather that could be then sold to sewers to create different products in a more sustainable fashion.
A machine de-stones the mangos and then crushes the fruit into a pulp. Additives are added to the pulp to turn it into a leather like material. The mixture is then placed on metal baking trays and smoothed out for an even thickness. The trays with the mixture go into a dehydrator overnight. The pulp has a cream color before being dried but depending on the mango (Palmer mango has a brown color while Keitt mango will give a black color) the color variation may differ. From there it is sent to a leather finishing facility to make the product more durable through multiple preservation coating. Lastly, an embedding machine adds texture details to make it look and feel like animal skin.
The founders of this innovative leather founded their own company with the goal of reducing the 12% food waste in the Netherlands. Their goal was to take something of less value and make it valuable.
In addition, many chemicals used to tan leather made from animal skins are often thrown into large bodies of water. Most of the carbon dioxide emissions that come from the leather making process is from the tanning of the leather. Vegan leather contributes to neither.
Although mango or vegan leather is a sustainable option, it still has its challenges. Vegan leather has a lifetime of less than 10 years. In addition, the company can only produce 250 shoes worth of leather which raises costs for a piece of leather which limits the uses of the product.
The company still is working towards adding new features and aspects to make their product more sustainable while more efficient. Their end goal isn’t to replace the leather industry but to make leather production easier on the environment. Supporting business with eco-friendly mentalities not only benefits our environment but future generations in the long-run.
Written By Sarah Syed