If you haven’t already heard its Veganuary… the month where everyone has the chance to try Vegan without judgment or pressure and it’s an opportunity to open up many discussions for debate.
One hot topic is that of vegan leathers and the many new ‘alternative’ material companies that are entering the market. There is a lot of buzz around so called ‘vegan leathers’ and ‘plant-based’ for example but there is also much confusion about what is truly a sustainable innovation versus a mere plastic that’s been rebranded to piggyback on a growing trend.
With most of these early stage innovations, it’s hard to know how they really compare to traditional materials in terms of performance, because we simply don’t have the historical data to track and review. The other challenge is educating consumers about the pros and cons of each new material. It’s easy to label something as ‘Vegan’ and assume that makes it instantly more sustainable, but that isn’t always the case. Likewise it’s easy to label something as plastic and quickly relate that to a bad product that’s harmful and dirty without understanding some of it’s practical benefits.
Real change, right now
There is no miracle material available today – but the planet demands real change right now and it is encouraging to see so many brands trying to make a positive impact, even if it’s not perfect yet.
One thing for certain is that all brands in this materials space, need to be clear and transparent about their products environmental impact – regardless of what they categorise themselves as or how they market themselves.
With the climate and all things environmentally friendly a necessity and at the forefront of consumer and business minds, we are beginning to see more and more companies ramping up their sustainability pledges and credentials in a bid to gain consumer interest, trust, and loyalty.
It’s fascinating to see the pace and breadth of next-generation materials being developed to help address the heavy environmental impact of the traditional materials used in fashion and other consumer markets. It seems that hardly a week goes by without another “green” material being touted as the saviour to planet’s undeniable climate crisis. In today’s environment many companies are stepping up on their commitment to using eco-friendly packaging, reducing their overall carbon footprint, and adding sustainable efforts to their supply chain, especially with a stronger focus on scope 3 emissions and increasing regulations.
Yet, in the midst of this, others are simply ‘greenwashing’ – a term widely used across sectors when brands and businesses are misleading customers on the positive impact they have on the environment. As a company with sustainability at its heart, we believe it’s vital that businesses communicate honestly and with authenticity about their sustainability efforts to help avoid greenwashing.
So what happens next?
As the next-gen materials industry goes through a process of ‘natural selection’ and development, we will likely see a relatively small cluster of technology solutions and companies that will emerge as the big winners over the next decade. It is easy to get carried away with neat-sounding technologies, but the harsh reality is that the winning materials will need to deliver at scale on a number of factors:
1) material performance; meeting or exceeding the durability, appearance and haptics that consumers take for granted
2) unit cost/affordability; large scale adoption will require something close to cost-parity with legacy materials
3) verifiable and transparent sustainability impact; giving consumers simple and relevant information which is easy to digest to base purchasing decisions on
The critical question is which technologies and companies will be able to demonstrate to global brands and consumers that they can deliver on all of these at scale and in the timeframe that is required – it is a matter of either surviving, thriving, or failing.
Further education and explanation is needed to ensure consumers are empowered with the correct information, instantaneously, especially when making sustainable purchases. The race for companies and brands is on to set themselves apart from their peers whilst having a positive environmental impact at a time when there is significant consumer demand, sustainability commitments and technological developments!
What makes ELeather eco-friendly?
At ELeather we’ve changed the narrative around using leather waste. We turn waste leather into a luxury material for the climate conscious. It’s sustainable, lightweight and long-lasting, without taking it out on the planet.
ELeather is environmentally-friendly for a number of reasons. So far we’ve recycled over 8,000 tonnes of leather waste (that’s almost as heavy as the Eiffel Tower). Our production method reduces CO2 emissions by over 60% (compared to traditional leather). It also saves 55% of natural resources such as water and land. We use 100% renewable electricity and recycle 95% of the water used in our production process. We entangle leather fibres around a high-performance core using just high-pressure water. We call this process ‘hydroentanglement’. The result is ELeather. Recycled leather. Engineered sustainably. A luxury material, that doesn’t cost the planet. Giving consumers a chance to enjoy luxury with a clear conscience. And all this data is backed by a full Life Cycle Assessment.
Want to know more about recycled leather? Read more here.
Eco leather is a part of the Sustainable Material Revolution.