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Sustainable Brand Spotlight: Piñatex

Posted on 27 July 2016

You’ll never guess what resource expert Carmen Hijosa has developed as an alternative textile for leather—pineapple leaves! Hijosa’s revolutionary textile, Piñatex, is a multifaceted solution. It addresses issues posed by inefficient practices in pineapple production as well as repercussions of unsustainable practices in the leather industry. 

Various leather products often broadcast labels such as “eco-friendly”, a misleading representation of the environmental and ethical effects of raising livestock and turning their skin into leather. Regulatory agencies are far too often negligent in ensuring standards are met by the manufacturers who claim to have environmentally friendly practices. In reality, raising animals for leather requires huge amounts of food, water and energy. The process of turning skin into leather also utilizes chemicals that are extremely dangerous for human health, and produces tons of waste. 

After a trip to the Philippines, Carmen Hijosa was provoked by how leather production was not only terrible for the environment and the local people, but also that the leather being produced there was poor quality. As a solution, she developed a means to extract the fibers of otherwise discarded pineapple leaves, a process called decortication. These fibers are then turned into a strong and flexible supplement for leather. Decortication also creates a biomass that can be repurposed as fertilizer, and can be done easily by the local farming community, providing an extra source of income.

Carmen is stimulating real positive change in wasteful industries, helping others to not just repurpose their waste, but upscale it! After years of development, Piñatex is en route to major leather markets. Keep your eyes open for Piñatex and other innovative solutions to animal-based products!

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