ImpactAlpha, July 6 – Tens of thousands of tons of apple pulp, cores and seeds are thrown away each year in the E.U. after the fruit is pressed for juice and cider. Copenhagen-based Beyond Leather Materials buys the pulp, blends it with sustainably-sourced rubber, and “cures” it into a leather-like material. The whole process takes a day, compared to six-weeks or more for traditional animal-based leather.
Beyond Leather plans to launch its material into the $30-billion-per-year synthetic leather industry later this year. The startup raised its seed round from Jensengroup Investment Fund, Rockstart and Vækstfonden to help it ramp up production.
Beyond Leather is part of a small but growing cohort of ventures developing the “animal free” products market beyond alternative foods. Other players include New York-based lab grown leather company Modern Meadow and San Francisco-based MycoWorks, which makes mushroom-based leather.
Most commercial synthetic, or “vegan,” leather products are still unsustainable, even though they aren’t animal-based products, because they’re plastic-based, Beyond Leather’s Mikael Eydt told ImpactAlpha. (Think Naugahyde.) Beyond Leather’s product uses a recycled plastic-based coating, but the company is working on other coating options so its product can be fully plastic-free. It’s also looking at other base products, like carrots.