Vegan leather" has been attracting a lot of attention recently.
Vegan leather" is what is called "fake leather," but what is attracting the most attention is vegan leather made from natural materials.
One already available product is Piñatex, pictured here, which is made from pineapple fiber. This material is made of non-woven pineapple fiber coated with polyurethane resin and manufactured in Spain. Chanel's launch of a hat made of Piñatex attracted a lot of attention. However, its texture is not a substitute for leather, as the fiber density is so scanty that it is more like paper or non-woven fabric than leather. It also contains polyurethane, which raises concerns about marine pollution and biodegradability.
Another promising material is vegan leather made from mushroom mycelium, an eco-friendly material that emits no CO2 and uses little water, which SYRINX is eager to try out.
Vegan leather is attracting attention because of environmental issues related to cows. In recent years, methane gas contained in cow burps has been cited as one of the major causes of global warming. As a result, research on additives and breeding methods to reduce the amount of methane gas contained in burps or to reduce burping is progressing, and at the same time, regulations on emissions are also being considered. Such trends have also led to the development of plant-derived meat substitutes at a fever pitch. As meat substitutes become more prevalent and fewer cows are raised, there will be fewer raw hides for leather, which is why vegan leather is attracting so much attention.
Along with this, however, a recent concern is the misinformation being disseminated that leather is bad for the environment.
Cowhide is an eco-friendly material, a recycled byproduct of meat production.
No cows are raised or killed to make cowhide.
If the hides were disposed of without recycling as leather, incineration would lead to a serious CO2 emission problem. The development of vegan leather is active in preparation for the future widespread use of meat substitutes. However, leather that values life and recycles its by-products is still eco-friendly.
Methane also comes from paddy fields. Rice is the staple food for about half of the world's population, and paddy fields cannot be eliminated to reduce methane. Therefore, research to reduce methane production through cultivation methods is important. The same goes for livestock production; the important thing is to control methane emissions to a sustainable range. As long as this is the case, the leather industry needs to be an environmentally friendly industry that recycles waste hides into leather.
Leather has existed since prehistoric times and has shared history with mankind.
We, too, would like to explore "what we can do to maintain a sustainable relationship between people and leather," even if it is only a small contribution.