Piñatex: The Pineapple Material to Watch in 2015
Piñatex is an innovative material made of waste pineapple leaf fibres from the pineapple harvesting process. Currently under development at London’s Royal College of Art, this pineapple fibre material offers a sustainable material alternative to leather.
Piñatex was created by Carmen Hijosa, who previously worked as a leather goods industry consultant in the Philippines. During her time in the country, she noticed that leather was not only becoming more scarce and expensive, but the processing of the material was resulting in considerable pollution. She therefore set about finding a more ethically and environmentally responsible material alternative.
Hijosa found material inspiration in traditional embroidered garments from the Philippines that are made with pineapple leaf fibres. Extremely fine but also very strong, these long fibres can be used to make a non-woven mesh material that is similar to felt and formed the basis for the creation of Piñatex.
To manufacture Piñatex, waste pineapple fibres are cut up, layered and processed into a textile. The textile can be created with different thicknesses and can also be processed in a number of ways including dying, printing and treating in order to create different types of textures – even leather-like textures.
Piñatex is not only less expensive to produce than traditional leather but is also more sustainable. Because Piñatex is a byproduct of the pineapple harvest (normally harvested pinapple leaves are left to rot on the ground), the material does not require additional land to be created. In turn, a byproduct from Pinatex’s processing is a biomass that can be converted to a fertiliser, which provides additional income to pineapple farmers.
So far this material innovation has been discovered by designers such as Ally Campino, who has used Piñatex to make bags. In addition, Puma and Camper have used Piñatex in sample shoes. The material is also generating interest within the accessories and upholstery markets.
Development of Piñatex is continuing to take place in Spain and UK and research is underway to investigate additional applications. Because of its antibacterial properties, it is being looking into for medical usages such as bandaging as well as a building insulation.
More information about Piñatex can be found here.