A new research proposes a vegan, ethical and ecological leather made from fungi as a substitute for animal-derived original ones
The clothing industry is among the most polluting in the world. The convenience of synthetic fibers derived from oil has led to a disproportionate use of plastic fibers, with potentially irreversible effects on the environment. Synthetic textile fibers, for example, are among the leading causes of the release of plastic nanoparticles into the seas. Science is trying to develop environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to the most widely used textiles. An example already described in The Patent is Desserto, the eco-leather produced from cactuses.
A new research, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, proposes a new eco-leather, produced from biomass rich in fungi. The idea, developed in the laboratories of the University of Vienna, exploits the portion of mushrooms that develops underground (the mycelia) to extract chitin, a well-known biopolymer. The substance then undergoes a chemical and physical treatment until the final product is obtained, which is aesthetically and to the touch reminiscent of animal skin.
The eco-leather combines the aesthetic appearance with the excellent physical properties, reproducing the characteristics of elasticity and strength of leather. The whole process is sustainable, economic, ethical, with very low environmental impact and produces a completely biodegradable material. The only obstacle at the moment is to manage the production of this new eco-leather for numbers suitable for the industry. However, researchers are confident. In fact, the researchers are recently following the development of a company in Finland that promises a development that can greatly increase the production of eco-leather based on mushrooms.