Kanpur Flowercycling Private Limited (PHOOL) makes incense from recycled and processed temple flowers. They also introduced a thermocol (polystyrene) replacement made from flowers and fungus called Florafoam for use as packaging. Recently, they created a leather-like material called Fleather made from fermented flower petals. In 2019, Fleather won the UN Sustainability Award. The company claims that three Italian luxury brands are using Fleather, although we have not yet confirmed this.
Fleather is a leather alternative made from waste flower petals collected from temples in india. PHOOL has stated that their Fleather is breathable and can be engineered to various tensile strengths.
Production process: Microbial Cultivation
PHOOL maintains that the process for making Feather is a trade secret, but it is possible to extrapolate the technology from information they have provided. All PHOOL products use flowers from temples in India as the primary raw material. The flowers are brought from temples and separated to remove non-biodegradable waste like plastic and thread. The flowers are then sorted by species, and petals are brought to the production facility in Kandar. According to their website, “a consortium of organisms is allowed to grow” on this “flower-based nutritive substrate” over a period of 3 weeks to create Fleather. The company describes the process as similar to making curd, which indicates that microbial cultivation is used to produce Fleather.
Initial processing of Fleather sheet pictured
Fleather is still in R&D phase, but is likely to be more sustainable than animal leathers and petroleum-based alternatives in various categories. It is said to be fully biodegradable and may use considerably less water in its production process.
According to Nachiket Kuntla, head of R&D, the company intends to set up a production plant with a capacity to make 9,000 ft² (approximately 830 m²) per day. In an interview on 2 May 2020, Kuntla stated that hurdles in the production process will take six months or more to overcome. They continue to seek partnerships with companies.