STOCKHOLM — October 9, 2023 — Traditional recycled leather is produced by combining shredded scraps and residual fibers of real leather with synthetic, non-biodegradable binders like PU and PVC. In contrast, the reProLeather project has pioneered a new approach. The technology developed by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) with the support of H&M Foundation, employs bio-based binders and ecofriendly chemicals.
As many industries are looking to minimize waste and save resources, the demand for recycled materials in the fashion industry has increased. However, recycling certain materials can sometimes be a tricky process, especially leather waste can be difficult to recycle. Much of the recycled leather contains harmful chemical residues, such as chromium VI, which result from the tanning process. These chemical residuals are carried through in the conventional recycling process.
In an effort to enable a planet positive industry, by accelerating vital research and supporting breakthrough innovation to scale, H&M Foundation is collaborating with HKRITA in the program Planet First. One of the research projects, reProLeather, has resulted in a new technology to separate the chromium VI from the shredded leather fibers and create a bio-based, alternative to the PU and PVC binders, thereby creating a new form of recycled leather that is biodegradable and recyclable.
The reProLeather successfully restructured post-consumer leather fibers into leather sheets in its research stage. HKRITA is now seeking industry partners to optimize production properties and enhance functions, paving the way for improved industry applicability in the future.
Christiane Dolva, Strategy Lead at H&M Foundation, said:
“As a philanthropic change agent for the entire industry, we take risks to unlock needed solutions with the ambition to find technologies that can contribute to a planet positive fashion future. I’m always open to share our findings openly with others, to find industry actors ready to adopt bold innovations and reProLeather could be one of these solutions. I hope to see it scale soon.”
Posted: October 9, 2023
Source: H&M Foundation