Pineapple waste fuels sustainable R&D into future materials

Pineapple fibres

Credit: Jacob Meantz

Natural fibres extracted from pineapple plants provide a sustainable alternative to leather with applications from apparel, to automotive design.

Piñatex, founded by social entrepreneur and designer Dr Carmen Hijosa, uses fibres that can be extracted from the waste leaves of pineapples. They are industrially processed into a non-woven mesh textile used for wide ranging products, including:

  • clothing
  • bags
  • footwear
  • furnishings.

Research funding and expertise from the UK’s Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Partnership (CRDP), has supported the company behind Piñatex, Ananas Anam, to work with the Centre for Circular Design at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London (UAL).

The collaboration aims to expand potential applications for the bio-based non-woven material by developing new sustainable value added processes to improve the substrate’s functionality and aesthetic qualities. The resulting materials may significantly impact many global industries quite literally from automotive to wide ranging interior and apparel applications.

Circularity in materials

Professor Jane Harris, director of the (BFTT) CRDP, says:

This initiative is intended to creatively and technically address the necessary shift toward more circularity in materials R&D.

We are proud to support collaborations between researchers and innovators to cement a vision for more sustainable textile, technology and apparel systems, which also supports growth and innovation here in the UK and around the world.

As well as offering consumers a more sustainable option to leather, Piñatex also offers a novel solution for disposing of pineapple roots, stem and leaves, historically left in the field after harvest. This waste attracts the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) which is harmful to cattle and a carrier of diseases.

This innovation also has an impact on the local economy. Ananas Anam works directly with farming cooperatives to create an additional income stream for pineapple farmers, with 10% of pineapple plantations in the Philippines signing up to supplying raw materials to the company.

This project has been supported by the BFTT as part of the AHRC Creative Industries Clusters Programme (CICP), funded by the UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Last updated: 19 April 2021

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