As with several new material companies in Europe, Hannah Michaud was inspired to found her company in 2016 after taking a course on biomimicry. She wanted to create a material using ingredients from food production waste. After experimenting with egg shells and straw, she landed on apple waste from cider and juice production. Her product is a leather-like material that she hopes can become the “game changer” of the leather industry.
In 2020, the company changed its name from The Apple Girl to Beyond Leather Materials.
The apple material looks to mimic leather and can be made to be rigid or flexible. It can be dyed in a number of colors, and can be laser cut. To increase durability, the product is currently coated with fossil fuel-based polymer. The company plans to continue developing a more sustainable coating as well as to find ways to separate the coating from the biodegradable apple material.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
Apple pulp left behind in the cider pressing process is the main ingredient (60%) of this leather-like material. The backing is organic cotton in most cases. The mechanical/chemical production process can be used to make material with many kinds of fruit pulp. The material is dried throughout and texture can be added before coating. Without the coating, this apple leather is completely biodegradable. Using a petroleum-based coating allows for increased durability and range of application.
According to the description of this material’s process, it appears that apple leather is more sustainable than bovine leather and petroleum-based alternatives in a number of areas, including water, energy, and land use, even considering the petroleum-based coating. Apple leather seems much more favorable in terms of chemical use and animal welfare.
The Apple Girl fulfilled its first order to create wristbands for the Copenhagen Cider Festival in August 2016.
In April 2020, the company is taking orders for sample boxes containing 4 sheets (A5) of apple leather in 4 different varieties. Expected delivery time is 3 months. Samples are not suitable for making products, but show current status of development.
MII has placed an order for a sample box and will update our analysis when received.
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