The production of Leather has been on for over seven millennia, it is known to be very durable and versatile.
However, lots of consumers have been shifting from leather products made from Animals because it is not environmentally sustainable to better sources such as Mushrooms.
Manufacturers of Leather have created better alternatives to Animal sources because of its environmental consequences due to processing techniques.
VTT Technical Research Center in Finland is one of the Scientists who produce leather from an alternative source such as Fungi. They now produce eco-friendly leather material at large scales.
The normal production of leather has a considerable environmental burden, with about 130 million tons of Carbon footprints annually. In addition, there is a need for vast amounts of land, Energy for Livestock production, and Water. Also, there is a release of toxic chemicals during the processing of the leather.
Although artificial leather does not have the issues surrounding animal products, they require toxic chemicals for their production which take a long time to be decomposed. This, therefore, results in the same problem of synthetic plastic.
The leather industry is now focusing on alternatives that are plastic-free and more sustainable which will not result in these problems. Last year, two Canadian sisters produced Vegan Leather items out of Apple peel waste which was gotten from the juicing industry.
Two Mexican friends made Vegan leather from prickly pear Cactus; now, mycelium’s latest alternatives are made.
The VTT team’s approach begins with threaded webs of mycelium, a living material that stretches out under the ground and supports the growth of Mushrooms.
Using this biomass for the production of fabrics and textiles is something that has been in practice for a long time. Although, the VTT scientists have refined these processes to develop a skin-like material that has close strength and texture to genuine leather.
Géza Szilvay, VTT Senior Scientist, said:
In 2019, the scientist unveiled their process, but there was an issue concerning scaling the project up for massive production.
This was majorly a result of restraint in the cultivation of Mycelium which only takes place in a two-dimensional form. To solve the issue, the VTT team created a new patent-pending technology that depends on liquid fermentation in standard bioreactors to push up the process to commercial levels.
VTT’s new technology allows the continuous production of mycelium leather at scale, releasing sheets of the material at a speed of one meter (3.3 ft) per minute! Also, the system can be applied to industrial roll-to-roll production techniques.
The team is presently working on product ways to apply the material such as footwear, garments, and accessories.
Last year, the research looked into the sustainability, history, cost, manufacturing process, and material properties of fungus-derived leather alternatives. It discovered that leather derived from Fungi is a developing class of environmentally and ethically responsible materials that are progressively meeting consumer expectations.
Source: Intelligent Living Media