DOI: 10.3390/su16062324 ISSN: 2071-1050

A Study of the Composting Capacity of Different Kinds of Leathers, Leatherette and Alternative Materials

Nima Pourrasoul Sardroudi, Sílvia Sorolla, Concepció Casas, Anna Bacardit
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

The leather industry is in the midst of a shift towards sustainability and circular economy principles, placing a strong emphasis on the biodegradability of its products. There has been a notable upswing in the traction gained by eco-friendly leather alternatives. Concurrently, a diverse spectrum of commercial substitutes for conventional leather has surfaced, encompassing a range from synthetic constructs like leatherette to plant-based options. The objective of this study was to evaluate the composting capabilities of genuine leather and three alternatives, namely leatherette, Piñatex®, and Desserto®, in conjunction with leather subjected to treatment with alginate derivatives. The composting evaluation was conducted in accordance with ISO standards, simulating an intensive aerobic composting process. Results revealed that bovine leather samples treated with alginate derivatives underwent complete degradation within 21 to 25 days, and conventional wet-blue production resulted in total degradation after 31 to 35 days. In contrast, vegetable-tanned bovine leather manifested initial signs of degradation after 60 days, but fell short of achieving complete disintegration even after a protracted 90-day incubation period. Alternative materials showed no degradation after the 90-day composting test, indicating a potentially lower degradation capacity compared to leather, likely attributed to the presence of non-biodegradable materials like PU and PVC, among others. The negligible degradation observed in alternative materials after 90 days of composting highlights their inferior composting performance compared to leather.

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