Have you heard about the fascinating vegan leather called Piñatex? In this article, I will tell you all you need to know about it.
What is Piñatex?
Piñatex is a material similar to leather that’s made from the leaves of the pineapple. It was invented by Spanish entrepreneur Dr. Carmen Hijosa, formerly a leather goods expert.
When she was a consultant, she spent significant time with the leather workers. She witnessed how the money they earned was not enough to sustain their families and how they would have to be separated from their children. As a mother herself, those events moved her significantly. Also, she realized the massive impact that producing animal leather has on the environment.
Hence, Carmen decided to stop working with animal leather and try to use another material that would not cause the same harm to the environment and the people.
“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
After living for some time in the Philippines in the 1990s, she got to know how the locals would create clothing from the fibers of the pineapple leaves. That gave Carmen the idea that she could make a non-woven material to resemble leather using those fibers, too.
Of course, coming up with new material is no easy task, and to accomplish it, she had to go back to school. She earned a Ph.D., in which she worked to develop the innovative fiber that is now patented under the name Piñatex and produced by her company, Ananas Anam.
How’s Piñatex made?
- The long fibers of the pineapple leaf are extracted using semi-automatic machines after the pineapple harvest.
- The fibers are washed and then dried naturally by the sun. During the rainy season, they are dried in ovens.
- Once dry, the fibers go through a purification process. The resulting material is a fluff-like fiber called PALF.
- The PALF gets mixed with a corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) and undergoes a mechanical process to create Piñafelt, which is the base of all Piñatex products.
- The Piñafelt is shipped from the Philippines to Spain or Italy for specialized finishing.
- For some of the products or collections, the Piñafelt is colored with GOT certified pigments and a resin top-coating
Is Piñatex sustainable?
Piñatex can be categorized as a sustainable fabric since the raw material doesn’t use any water, land, or fertilizers, being a by-product of the pineapple harvest.
The pineapple is the second most popular fruit globally, and it produces 25 million tons of trash per year. In making Piñatex, 264 Co2 tons were saved by using instead of burning 825 tons of waste leaves from the pineapple harvest – the burning of which would release the equivalent of 264 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The finishing of the fabric is a process that can be seen as not so environmentally friendly because the top coating uses petroleum-based resins; however, it’s necessary to provide the material with additional strength, durability, and water resistance. Nevertheless, the company keeps innovating in this area: initially, petroleum-based resins would compose most of the coating; now, it has been lowered to only 5%.
In short, Piñatex is an excellent alternative to leather because it’s much more environmentally friendly and has very similar properties.
The reuse of waste materials offers the opportunity to build a scalable commercial industry that develops farming communities with a minimal environmental impact. In that sense, Piñatex is an invention inspired by the principles of the circular economy.
Where is Piñatex used?
Piñanext is water-resistant, breathable, and light, much lighter than leather. It’s used in the same way as traditional leather in apparel, accessories, and furniture.
One thing is inventing new material, and another very different is to scale its production and use it in actual products that can survive the wear and tear of its usage. That’s the most impressive thing about Piñatex: it’s a reality, and it’s been used by over 1000 brands worldwide, including Hugo Boss, H&M, and the Hilton Hotel Bankside. Isn’t that amazing?
How to care for Piñatex?
- Clean your product using a cloth soaked in warm soapy water. Never fully submerge the product as this may cause irreversible damage.
- Let your item dry before any application is made, and refrain from using a heat source to dry more quickly, as this could cause damage.
- It’s recommended to use a natural colorless wax for your Piñatex products. Apply a small amount to a dry, soft cloth and rub sparingly over the textile in a circular motion until fully absorbed.
- Leave your item to dry naturally for 24 hours after application.
- You can also buff the wax off with a dry cloth or soft brush.
FinaIs Piñatex biodegradable?
Piñatex is not 100% biodegradable because of the top coating.
Is Piñatex durable?
Yes, Piñatex is a very durable material, given that you provide good care to it.
Is Piñatex expensive?
The price of Piñatex is around 50 euros per linear meter.
Is Piñatex waterproof?
Piñatex Original/Pluma/Mineral/Metallic is water-resistant, not waterproof. Piñatex’s Performance is waterproof.
Is Piñatex vegan?
Yes, Piñatex is PETA approved and registered by the Vegan Society.
It’s reassuring to know that people care about the environment and spend their lives making better products available for the environmentally-conscious consumers out there.
Piñatex is a fabric that has a great story behind it; it’s innovative, modern, good looking and more than anything, an extraordinary statement that we’re serious about sustainability and willing to stop consuming leather goods.
If you would like to learn about another excellent sustainable alternative to vegan leather, make sure to check out our article about Desserto cactus leather.