The Crowd Pleaser
World production of fresh apples for 2020/21 is estimated to be 75.9 million tons.
Massive Production, Massive Waste
China, the EU and the U.S. produce the highest amount of fresh apples, totaling more than 75% of the world's production. Unlike exotic fruits, apples are mostly consumed locally. For example, 25% of apples produced in the U.S. are exported while only 5% of apples consumed in the U.S. are imported.
When it comes to the food waste crisis, apples are no exception. It is estimated that 3.7 trillion apples are thrown away each year. That’s almost 50 apples per person!
In the U.S., 30% of apples are tossed out at the consumer level, at home after purchase, (USDA, 2010) and a total of 47% of apples are discarded each year (OnePoll, 2019).
A Closer Look at Apple Juice Production
Apples are processed into a variety of products, among which apple juice is the most common. It is estimated that 13% of fresh apple production is used for apple juice manufacturing.
In large scale apple juice production, about 75% of an apple is utilized for juice and the remaining 25% is the by-product, apple pomace, which is generated worldwide in millions of tons. Due to the high moisture content and organic compound that is prone to enzymatic degradation and rapid oxidation, apple pomace requires high level of oxygen to decompose at a specific range of temperatures. If not properly disposed, this by-product leads to high GHG emissions and public health hazards.
The good news is, apple pomace is full of natural fiber that could be upcycled into valuable products.
From Apple Peels to Your Timeless Bags
Many plant materials are durable due to their concentration of two main components: cellulose and lignin. For example, bamboo fibers are made up of almost 50% cellulose, which is why the plant exhibits so much durability. Plants that are abundant in lignin take longer to break down. An example is jute, which demonstrates incredible high MPa for tensile strength. Lean more about the power of plant fiber here.
The discarded apple peels and other fruit waste from the juice industry are the perfect source for natural fibers. In fact, apple peels contain more than 50% of the fiber in an apple. Through a proprietary process of combining these discarded fibers with other bio-contents and water-based PU, an innovative, cruelty-free, sustainable alternative to leather is created!
Legend Has it...
A Symbol of Strength, Love and Protection
A Natural Carbon Sink
Cacti live up to 300 years, absorbing carbon dioxide up to 30% of its body mass, in places where not many other options are available. They also regenerate soil naturally. Once cacti form a dense stand, they prevent strong winds from eroding away the topsoil, thus slowing down or even preventing desertification, especially in areas where no trees can survive.
From Cactus to Your Timeless Bags
Cactus leaves are more than just an ingredient in your tacos. In addition to all the dietary benefits, these leaves are also full of natural fiber that’s necessary to make enduring and elastic leather-like material.
We are proud to work with Desserto, a Mexico-based business that produces cactus-based biomaterials as an alternative to leather, and bring to you durable pieces that are cruelty-free and PVC-free.
Oh Mighty Mighty Mango
“The Wish-Granting Trees”
From Discarded Mango to Your Timeless Bags
Rich in natural fiber even in over ripeness, mangoes are a great source for making elastic and durable materials. Refresh your memory on the power of natural fiber here.
Through partnerships, we collect discarded mangoes from supermarkets, shred them down into “smoothies”, and turn the entire fruit into sheets through an eco-friendly process. With help of water-based PU as a binding agent, the juicy fruit is transformed into strong leather-like material that’s ready to be shaped and conditioned.
What makes this material even more unique? The amount produced depends on the seasonality of the fruit, and how many mangoes are thrown away by supermarkets!
The Most Wasted Fruit in the Supermarket
A Swedish study shows that 7% of mangos in the country's supermarkets are discarded due to defects, over ripeness, and many times just not good-looking enough to be picked by consumers.
In Australia, mango joins the 3.1 million tons of edible food that is thrown away every year by Australian households, according to the National Food Waste Strategy. That $2.50 piece of fruit has become part of the $20 billion loss to the country's economy.
In the U.S., approximately 20% of mangoes in grocery stores are wasted, per a study the USDA conducted in 2016. Note all these numbers only include mangoes discarded in supermarkets, and do not include the mangoes that are already lost prior to arriving at supermarkets or after being purchased.
The Waste Starts with the Harvesting
In 2018, global production of mangoes was 55.4 million tons, led by India with 39% of the world's total. China and Thailand were the next largest producers.
Mangos found in western markets are primarily imported. In 2017, world mango imports totaled $2.8 billion, with the U.S.(23.2%), Netherland (9.9%), and Germany (7%) being the largest importers.
Mango harvesting presents unique problems in preparation for the fruit's journey overseas. The fruit is inedible before ripening and turns squishy very fast, so harvesting and transportation is highly time sensitive. Each mango needs to be harvested by hand, stored with utmost care, and transported to destinations as soon as possible. Just imagine the challenges in transporting a squishy fruit from Thailand to Germany!
It is estimated that more than 30% of mangos are wasted during harvesting and transportation globally, with some regions experiencing much higher waste rate. For example, post-harvest losses for the West Africa region are estimated at a massive 50–80%.
Our Materials: Pineapple
The latest addition to our portfolio is made entirely from pineapple leaves and vegetable scraps from food processing. Pineapples are widely produced in subtropical and tropical areas while its leaves are a bi-product and usually discarded. By repurposing the strong fibers within these scraps, the pineapple "leather" help reduce food waste, emissions and other pollutants that impact our planet.
Too Important to Ignore
The Binding Agent
Binding agent provides structural stability to materials. It hardens chemically or mechanically, and in the process bonds fibers and other substances together.
Another function of biding agent is to seal the organic component from effects of elements such as air and water, ensuring long lasting performance of the materials.
A similar concept exist in animal leather material. Tanning is irreplaceable for animal leather products because if the raw hide is not tanned, it will rot and putrefy. The tanning process stabilizes the protein of the raw hide or skin, preventing putrefaction, and preparing it for a wide variety of end applications.
While plant-based leathers are clear front-runners as sustainable alternative, it is important to highlight that all plant-based materials still use some plastic and synthetic components as binding agent to give the material its structure and durability.
At Allégorie, we use water-based and solvent-free polyurethane (aka"PU") as binding agent. With strong R&D partners, we are able to reduce the usage of PU to the lowest percentage possible without compromising quality and durability.
Additionally, we utilize recycled materials wherever possible to help remove pollution from the environment. The material production process are also constantly improving to recycle energy and water and minimize impact to the environment.