With material innovations spanning across architecture, interiors, fashion, graphics and packaging at Material Xperience in Rotterdam, a great detail of focus this year was given to sustainability. Not surprising given the global waste and plastics crisis, the shift towards more environmentally friendly alternatives is high on the agenda across all industries. A whole spectrum of sustainable materials and cradle-to-cradle manufacturing approaches featured at the show from bio-based materials, recycled materials, upcycled materials, materials from renewable sources, compostable and biodegradable to name just some.
Amongst the range, one particular group of sustainable materials grabbed our attention and featured across all categories; material innovations utilising food waste. Here’s a round-up of some of the most innovative and unusual ones that caught our eye…
1|Fruit leather – Fruitleather Rotterdam is currently developing a new and eco-friendly process that converts leftover fruits into a durable leather-like material. The fruit leather can be coated or embedded with a print before being applied to a range of products; in fact any products that currently use traditional leather as it can be cut and stitched in a similar way.
2|Apple leather – Hannah Michaud (The Apple Girl) has transformed the residual product from the production of apple cider and apple cheese into a leather-like product. This material potential has many applications include clothing, accessories, toys, mobile phone covers and packaging; and can be processed to be both soft and stiff – what’s more apple leather is vegan.
3|Pineapple leaf fibre – Piñatex® is an innovative natural textile made from pineapple leaf ﬁbre. The leaves are the by-product of pineapple harvest so no additional environment resources are required to produce the raw material and it also creates an additional income stream for farming communities. The main processing of the material is carried out in the Philippines; the waste leaves are collected and the fibres are extracted through a process called decortication, fibres are then degummed and processed into a non-woven textile. The roles of non-woven mesh are then sent to Spain for specialised finishing which gives the material its leather-like appearance. Applications include: Footwear and fashion accessories, clothing, interior furnishing and automotive upholstery.
4 |Coconut fibres – Tree bag by reWrap is made from all natural materials and is 100% biodegradable. The outside surface material is made from 100% coconut fibre pressed together with natural resin; the inside of the bag is made from 100% natural sun-dried rubber making it waterproof; and the handle and clasp are made from 100% walnut wood from a sustainably managed source with a bee wax coating. The bag is sewn together with thread made from wood pulp, which is more sustainable than conventional treads as it requires much less water in cultivation and production.
5 |Leek paper – This paper from Isaac Monte is made from the waste of leeks; given how cleaning leeks is the main source of waste within the harvesting process this is a great idea. Currently the waste from leek harvesting is being used as fertilizer, but this is more of a solution to get rid of the waste rather than a fertiliser technique itself. Fairly thick and fibrous this paper can be used to ‘wrap vegetables in paper made from the waste streams of their own production’.
6-7 |Onion, garlic and algae panels –This curious collection of panels is made from casting red onion skin, brown onion skin, garlic skin and algae; giving a sense of depth and ‘inner-texture’ to these flat surfaces.
8 |Terroir seaweed & paper – These tough and durable materials are made from a combination of paper and seaweed harvested from beaches in Denmark and are currently used to create chair seats and lampshades. Danish designers Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt developed this new material by cooking dried and ground seaweed until it turns into glue and combining it with recycled paper waste giving it “a warm and tactile surface with the softness of cork and the lightness of paper.” The colour variations come from the different species of seaweed, ranging from dark brown to light green, and reflect the different terroir of the seaweed harvest.
Animal & fish by-products…
9 |Salmon leather – The craft of tanning fish skin to leather has existed for centuries, but has largely sat in the background to other animal and reptile leathers. NYVIDDs aim is to stimulate the use of this natural material which is usually a by-product of fish processing, often ending up in the waste. Salmon leather absorbs colour well, even subtle colours, and offers the largest scale of colours out of the various fish leathers. Offering a more natural colour application and aesthetic; Mimosa is vegetable tanned salmon leather named after the tree from which the bark is used for tanning. Only one base colour is available using Mimosa bark – light brown. Thin, flexible and strong key applications for salmon include: fashion, accessories, jewellery, furniture design, interior design and automotive interiors.
10 |Blood plastic – A somewhat intriguing material… This ‘plastic’ is made from 100% dried and pressed pig’s blood, yes you read that right, pig’s blood. Designer Basse Stittgen explores the possibilities of animal blood, a waste material from the meat industry, being used as material.
11 |Inner skins – Experimental material research from Studio Gutedort explores the use of entrails (bladders and intestines) from sheep, pigs and cows to make unique objects. These ‘inner skins’ are typically seen as unappealing by-products from the meat industry, yet when cleaned, treated, put through the tanning process and dried they reveal a lightweight leathery surface that is surprising soft and tactile.
12 |Leather paper – Remake leather paper is made from discarded residue of the leather manufacturing process and is 100% recyclable and compostable. During manufacture 25% of wood tree pulp is replaced with leather residues.
Other organic waste…
13 |Coffee board – Kafee is a rigid and strong board with an intense fragrance of coffee made from coffee powder with bean relief structure on a carrier material.
14 |Food waste papers – The Crush range of eco-friendly papers is made by replacing up to 15% of virgin tree pulp with the process residues of organic products saved from landfill, including: Citrus fruits, grapes, cherries, lavender, corn, olives, coffee, kiwi fruits, hazel nuts and almonds.
If you would like to find out more about sustainability and how Design Insight can drive innovation within your company contact Sarita on:
Posted by Sarita
Principal – Design Insight
Languages spoken: English.
The last thing that inspired me: Chinese teacups from a small café in Camden Town, London - the most amazing collection of colours and textures.
My dream project: Something multi-sensorial.
My obsession: Stationery - retro inspired, Asian influenced, graphically intriguing, sensorially indulgent and the 'unique'!
Image credit © PDD Group Ltd.