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Spanish entrepreneur creates vegan leather from pineapple leaves

A Spanish entrepreneur creates a vegan based leather using pineapple leaves. With the vision of connecting People, environment, economics and innovation, Dr Carmen Hijosa creates Pinatex in the 1990s. Pinatex is a natural, sustainably sourced, cruelty-free material made from pineapple leaves.  

Inspiration behind Pinatex

The incredible journey of Pinatex started in the 1990s when Dr. Carmen Hijosa went to Philippines and worked as a consultant at Design Centre Philippines. She was shocked to realize the environmental impact of mass leather production and chemical tanning on the environment. While realizing the impact of the leather industry, she also notices the abundance of natural resources (plant fibres) in the region. Inspired by this revelation, she began her quest to create a sustainable eco-friendly leather that will have commercial and societal impact.

Journey of Pinatex

Her quest to create sustainable leather led her to take a Ph.D. at Royal College of Art (U.K.) As a Ph.D. fellow, she spent seven years developing the product. Pinatex was first presented at the Ph.D. graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art. Since its launch, Pinatex has been covered by many major media including Elle, Voque, Wired, Huffington Post and has been used in furniture, cars, and clothing by brands like Hugo Boss, H&M, and Hilton Hotel Bankside.

Manufacturing

Ananas Anam deals with the production of Pinatex. During harvest, Pineapple leaves are collected and its long fibres are extracted using semi-automatic machines. The extracted fibres are then sun dried. These sun-dried fibres go through a purification process to remove impurities which results in fluff like material.

Credit: Ananas Anam

This fluff like pineapple leaf fibre (PALF) gets mixed with a corn based poly lactic acid (PLA) and undergoes a mechanical process to create Piñafelt, a non-woven mesh which forms the base of all Piñatex collection. Pinafelt are then shipped to Spain or Italy for final finishing.

Credit: Ananas Anam

Societal Impacts

Ananas Anam works directly with the rural farmers and are providing an extra source of income for the pineapple farmers. The company plans to work together with more pineapple farmers communities globally.

Environment

Synthetic leather is toxic and environmentally non-sustainable.

Pinatex is sustainably sourced textile, made from a natural waste product, created low water use and low production waste, containing no harmful chemicals or animal products. It is PETA certified.

Credit: Ananas Anam (Pinatex)

Reception

Pinatex won the Arts foundation award for material innovation, 2016.

Dr Carmen Hijosa also won the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award, 2015 and Innovate UK women in innovation award in 2016.

“Design is a connecting tool between people, economics and the environment – and out of this communion, understanding and respect new ideas and products with integrity can come about.”


Dr. Carmen Hijosa

Also read, Mexican entrepreneurs create leather from cactus 

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