Apple Leather: How It's Made - The Smart Minimalist

Apple Leather: How It's Made

As technology changes and new alternative leathers are made, we get to quite literally bare the fruits of the beautiful fashion that can be created. Apple leather is a new emerging leather alternative that is sweeping fashion along with fungus leathers. In today’s blog, we will be taking a look at apple leather and deconstructing how we can now go from an apple to a handbag! 

First of all, a little bit of a back story. The material was first developed by Frumat and is made in Italy. The material is so new, it was first made into bags in 2019. Today, Frumat collects fruit scraps and crushes it, until the pulversided scraps are a fine powder. This powder is blended with a resin that is dried and laid flat into a final material -- apple leather. 

It’s important to note here that only 50% of the final material is apples, and the remaining material is the resin. This resin basically coats and holds together the powders. This resin is the same as what makes up conventional synthetic leather, like polyurethane, or PU leathers. This opens up the next question; how sustainable is apple leather if it’s only 50% biological.

Apple leather is half synthetic, half bio-based, so is it sustainable? It’s important to understand the environmental impact of other comparable materials. 

Cow hide leather is the third most negatively impactful material to produce according to SAC’s index. The index considers climate, water scarcity, fossil fuel use and chemistry.  We discussed in our previous blog how polyurethane synthetic leather has less than half the impact of cow hide. Apple skin leather requires fewer fossil fuels than both animal and purely synthetic leather.

Apple leather is still 50% fossil-fuel derived. This means it won’t be biodegrade. Most leather-like materials are not fully biodegrade (with the exception of cork, and some newer fungus materials which aren’t available to market at a significant scale). Even when vegetable tanned, cow skin leather doesn’t effectively biodegrade. This adds to our landfills. At least, apple skin also has the added benefit of making use of fruit waste and apple production is sustainable. 

More brands are pushing the limits of organic materials like apple powder. As innovation in the fashion industry continues, we will see a fully organic alternative where apple, and perhaps other food waste is still utilized. In the future we’re likely to see more materials that not only are free from all fossil-fuels and animals, but that can biodegrade while still lasting as effectively as other materials.
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