What do you know about bio-based materials?

Feb 2, 2022

The rise of sustainability as a focus and demands for cruelty-free leather has driven brands and major fashion houses to ditch fur and leather from their collections, focusing on substitutes made from plants or food waste, resulting in what is called bio-based materials or biomaterials.

In Portugal, decree Law No. 3/2022, has established the definition and use of the term ‘leather,’ and its derivatives or synonyms. Effective from January 1, 2022,  it is no longer possible to associate the word ‘leather’ with an item if the material is not leather. The use of terms such as ‘vegan leather’ or ‘synthetic leather,’ is not only technically incorrect but also no longer allowed. Their use is thus considered deceptive and misleading to consumers, and it is subject to fines. Portugal’s decision is another great initiative for brands to create accurate communication.

Leather has long been the sign of luxury in fashion, footwear and furniture, but the growing concern and awareness against animal cruelty, as well as the environmental implications, have driven these industries to look into different alternatives.

Ingvar Helgason, CEO at VitroLabs mentions that 80% of animal hide used in the leather industry is left unused. By adding immense water consumption to the equation, the environmental consequences make the production of conventional leather highly valued as unsustainable, leading to massive amounts of greenhouse emissions and waste.

While some brands have banned the use of leather sourced from certain exotic animals, others have chosen cruelty-free, yet just as or even more polluting solutions like PU or PVC. A third category has focused on biomaterials like pineapple leaves, coffee grounds, palm, apple leftovers, mushrooms, eggshells, and seashells. New types of natural and conscious materials are being added all the time, producing bio-based or vegan alternatives, also known as bio-based materials.

Coffee grounds – drink it, then wear it.

Everyone’s favourite morning energiser and drink, coffee, has found itself a new role, turning the leftover coffee grounds into a leather lookalike material. The material has a great structure, look, and feel used by footwear brands and fashion. The innovative solution is an alternative to animal leather, with a lower environmental impact.

Eggshells – eggs in a nutshell

Thanks to the calcium carbonate found in eggshells, not only is this a great resource, but research has found that materials using eggshells are also less flammable. Categorized as food waste or coming from post-hatching, eggshells account for a significant amount of waste that can now be put to good use in creating bio-based materials.

Trimco Group is continuously looking at alternative choices for trims and providing brands with a broad range of materials for their conscious goals.

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