An eco-friendly alternative to synthetic leather, the new material contains 50% mango pulp. It degrades faster than polyurethane leather. On Monday, CLRI scientists, who have applied for a patent, transferred the technology to Mumbai-based startup Aamati Green Private Limited, which sponsored the research and development.
CLRI chief scientist P Thanikaivelan said the team combined mango pulp with a biopolymer in liquid and powder form which then underwent a simple process to be made into a sheet-like material. They gave the material a surface coating and added design patterns. Bags and laptop sleeves made of ‘mango-leather’ have passed durability tests. Work is on to improve the properties of the material to make footwear.
“No material can compete with natural leather which has the best tensile strength and longevity. Products made from PVC and PU leather, which have been in the market for 50 years, take a long time to degrade when they are thrown away. What we have done is combine natural material (mango pulp) with a polymer which is environment-friendly to make a biodegradable leather-like material,” he said.
He said the only company that makes mango-based leather-like material is in the Netherlands. India is the largest producer of mangoes (20 million tonnes annually), and farmers leave up to 40% of the mangoes in the fields as they do not meet standards and requirements. These discarded mangoes can be used to make the leather-like material.
Pratik Dadhania, founder, Aamati Green Private Limited, said the production of the mango-based leather involves mashing and boiling leftover mangoes to eliminate bacteria. The process leaves a low to moderate carbon footprint compared to animal hide leather production, which requires animal skins and a lot of water.
“We will engage fashion houses and brands to produce eco-friendly bags and clutches. Our manufacturing cost is roughly 60% less than the current synthetic leather price,” he said. “By employing circular solutions, our company envisions to act on the problem of mango waste, incentivise farmers and make vegan leather in a sustainable manner.”