Piñatex is an innovative natural textile made from pineapple fibres. It resembles felt but performs in a similar way to leather and has been used to make clothes, shoes and even furniture. Created by a leather-goods expert, Carmen Hijosa, who was looking for a sustainable alternative to mass-produced leather and PVC, its production is centred around making a positive environmental and social impact too.
At Mark+Fold we discovered Piñatex a few years ago and have been looking at ways to use it. Building on the popularity of our removable Leather Covers, we decided to create a range of Piñatex covers to showcase this wonderful material.
In making Piñatex, 264 tons of Co2 are saved because the pineapple fibres are re-used, rather than being burned. 825 tons of waste leaves from the pineapple harvest would release the equivalent of 264 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (equivalent to charging more than 33 million smartphones).
Ananas Anam supports rural farming communities by working directly with farming cooperatives to create an additional stream of income to pineapple farmers. Adding value to agricultural 'waste' has created a new source of income for farming communities who otherwise rely on a seasonal harvest. Once the fibre has been stripped from the leaf the leftover biomass can be retained to use as a natural fertiliser or bio-fuel, offering a further environmental prospect.
HOW IT'S MADE
After pineapple harvest, the suitable plant leaves which are left behind are collected in bundles and the long fibres are extracted using semi-automatic machines. The fibres are washed then dried naturally by the sun, or during the rainy season in drying ovens. The dry fibres go through a purification process to remove any impurities which results in a fluff-like material.
This fluff-like pineapple leaf fibre (PALF) gets mixed with a corn based polylactic acid (PLA) and undergoes a mechanical process to create Piñafelt, a non-woven mesh which forms the base of all Piñatex collections. The rolls of Piñafelt are then shipped by boat from the Philippines to Spain or Italy for specialised finishing.