5 Leather Alternatives Made Out Of Food Waste - Malai leather

5 Leather Alternatives Made Out Of Food Waste

“Don’t waste it, wear it!” The future of fashion marketing campaigns!
In recent years we have seen innovative materials entering the world of fashion. A new revolution is underway, and thanks to new technologies, we are now able to transform by-products of the food industry in precious resources for the fashion industry. Today I would like to share five sustainable alternatives to conventional leather made from food waste. These materials are 100% vegan and are a great substitute to both mass-produced leather and petroleum-based synthetic fabrics. 


Vegea textile is a vegan leather alternative made from vegetable raw materials and winemaking by-products. The company aims to produce a bio-based fabric as an alternative to animal and oil-based synthetic leathers, to be used in fashion, design, automotive and packaging industries.
The material created by Vegea just feels like conventional leather and has similar properties. It should be added that the production process of “wine leather” doesn’t require any water nor any toxic chemicals or heavy metals that are usually use in the tanning process of conventional leather.

Imagine the impact that this leather alternative could have considering that 27/28billion litres of wines are produced around the world annually.

Image credit: Vegea


Malai is a startup which developed a biocomposite material made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry. The utilization of the agricultural waste prevents the blockage of the local drainage system, water pollution as well as the acidification of the soil. In addition by using the waste product, Malai offers a second income to the local communities. 

Coconut leather feels similar to conventional paper or leather. It is durable, flexible, resistant to water and it doesn’t contain any plastic coating or synthetic ingredients which, makes it biodegradable. It is available in different colours which are obtained by using natural dyes. This material is customisable to meet a wide range of thicknesses and textures, and it can be used to create seamless three-dimensional objects.

Image credit: Honza Zima – Malai leather


Piñatex is a natural and sustainable textile made from the fibres of pineapple leaves which are a by-product of the fruit industry. The physical properties are very similar to these of conventional leather.

By using the discarded by-products Piñatex has created a new source of income for farming communities who otherwise may only rely on the seasonal pineapple harvest.  In addition, once the fibers has been extracted from the leaves, the leftover biomass can be converted into a fertiliser or biofuel, which constitutes another benefit for the farmers. Like leather it can be used to manufacture goods including shoes, handbags and upholstery. Needless to say it is also 100% cruelty free. 

Image credit: Piñatex


MyCoWorks is a San Francisco based start up which produces vegan leather made from mycelium and agriculture byproducts. The material in customisable. It can be grown into nearly any size or texture. It is strong, flexible, durable and water-resistant. The ‘mushroom leather’ can easily and rapidly be grown from organic discarded material in a carbon-negative process, and it is 100% biodegradable.


The Apple Girl is a start up from Denmark that uses by-products from the apple juice and the cider industry to make vegan “apple leather”. This material is 100% biodegradable, requires only 1l of water for the production of 1 m of fabric and it is completely made from natural ingredients. It can be rigid or flexible depending on the requirements, and it can be also be laser cut. The material is under development, however you can pre-order some samples to support the project.

3 years ago