Leap’s leather-like material upcycles apple waste

Agnès Delcourt
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Leap’s leather-like material upcycles apple waste

Beyond Leather Materials markets Leap, a material partially made of apple waste that can be fashioned into different textures and thicknesses, making it an interesting option for luxury applications.

In Denmark, the cultivation of apples is an economy in its own right. No less than 3 million tons of fruit are harvested each year, which generates tons of waste as the peels, seeds and stems represent 25% of the apple’s total weight.

Hannah Michaud, a student at the University of Copenhagen, began research in this area in 2017 by developing an ecologically virtuous material. "With 2 kilos of waste, we can produce about 1m2 of leather," explains Mikael Eydt, Founder and head of Beyond Leather Materials, the company that finalized the industrialization process and launched it on the market.

Called Leap (for Leftover Apples), the leather from apple waste is a three-ply material made of the apple waste, binders (that use a minimal amount of fossil fuel derivatives, says the supplier), and a natural latex matrix woven from organic cotton and Tencel. The result is a leather-like material with a thickness that varies between 0.7 and 1 millimeter.

Leap has already won over the leather goods and automotive industries, while packaging professionals see this alternative to animal-based leather as a particularly valuable solution. Indeed, the apple-based leather can be worked in numerous colors and adopt different structures and tactile sensations to the touch, including snakeskin or granulated leather. It also offers a silky touch that comes from the apple waste itself. From a cost perspective, Leap is "almost identical to a medium quality animal leather, but with 85% less CO2 emitted during production compared to a traditional leather," concludes Eydt.

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