Japan Companies Turn to Apple Waste to Make Eco-Friendly Leather

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Customers look at products made with apple skins at Yurakucho Marui in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Synthetic leather is nothing new, but leather made from apple waste is getting a lot of attention from both businesses and consumers.

This material, often referred to as apple leather, is used in a variety of commercial products overseas, not only as a result of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, but also as a result of people’s growing environmental awareness. is progressing.

At a recent sales event held at the Yurakucho Marui department store in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, bags and wallets made from Italian apple leather were on display.

Taiga Matsumoto (20), a university student, said, “I can’t tell the difference from genuine leather.” “If the functions and design are the same, I want to choose the eco-friendly one.”

The product was created by bag and accessory company Lovst Tokyo.

“Using synthetic leather made from plants reduces livestock production and reduces carbon dioxide emissions,” said Kaito Karasawa, 31, president of the Tokyo-based company. increase. “Many people choose [these products] As a way to help the environment. ”

Apple leather is considered an ethical product because it is manufactured with the environment and people in mind.

Plant-derived leather is made by drying apple cores and pomace, pulverizing them, and mixing them with resin, which helps reduce food loss. Apple leather is light and stretchy, and its texture is very similar to animal leather.

In recent years, the commercialization of apple leather products is progressing in Japan.

Sorena, a startup in Nagano Prefecture, has developed apple leather jointly with Iizuna Town, Nagano Prefecture, and Kyowa Leather Co., Ltd., Shizuoka Prefecture, and named it apple leather (apple leather).

Mr. Iizuna purchases lees from various sources, including local sake breweries. After that, the pomace is dried and crushed at the city facility.

A person in charge of the industry and tourism section of the town said, “We are aiming to become Japan’s number one apple town, so it’s attractive that we make the most of apples and don’t waste them.”

In addition, Sorena collaborates with craftsmen and domestic brands to create various prototype items using apple leather. Late last year, the company began pre-ordering apple leather wallets at a discounted price on crowdfunding site Makake. Sorena plans to start selling apple leather bags and business card holders on its official website from April.

Yuri Ito, 38, president of Sorena, said, “We want to contribute to the revitalization of the local area as the apple skin-related industry takes root in Nagano Prefecture.”

Aomori-based startup Upcycle has developed a fabric called Ringotex made from apples grown in Aomori Prefecture. All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. selected Ringo-Tex fabric to create headrest covers for its sustainability-themed flights in October. Appcycle is currently developing other products for the average consumer and will launch later this year.

“I want to be a company that can support apple farmers in Aomori.” [Prefecture]Akira Fujimaki (38), from Aomori Prefecture and COO of Appe Cycle, says.

In other countries, cacti and mushrooms have been used to make artificial leather used by major brands such as Hermès and Adidas.

Ken Okuwaki, a researcher at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said, “As consumers and investors become more aware of environmental issues, more companies will produce environmentally friendly products.” ”

Provided by Appcycle, Inc.
Ringo-Tex is used for headrest covers on special flights for All Nippon Airways.

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