Carmen Hijosa, a consultant who worked in the Philippine's leather industry, created a material from pineapple leaves which could be a substitute for leather in trainers, upholstery, bags and more. The material is called Pinatex, from piῆa, a Spanish word for pineapple.
The fibers of Pinatex are extracted from pineapple leaves and, are then industrially processed into the textile. One of the by-products of this industrial process is a biomass that can be converted into fertilizer, which can be used by the farmers who work at the pineapple plantations, for extra income. These fibers have an appearance similar to canvas which allows them to be dyed, printed, and treated to give different types of texture. With different processing techniques, Pinatex can closely resemble leather and the thickness can be adjusted according to the desired final product.
Hijosa has spent the last few years at the Royal College of Art developing Pinatex, and the sample shoes have been made by Puma and Camper.
Pinatex was launched in London in late-2014 and the cost is currently about €18 per square meter whereas leather is anywhere between €20 and €30. The waste generated for Pinatex is around 5% while the leather’s share of waste goes up to about 25%.
Future plans include delving into other uses for Pinatex, such as anti-bacterial wound coverings, as the material would allow for air to circulate on the injury, and also potentially as insulation for homes.