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As part of our ongoing series of articles about different materials that can used to make bags and wallets, we review Piñatex. Piñatex is another vegan leather growing in popularity amongst accessories brands. We have worked with this material on a variety of projects at MPLG.

What is Piñatex?

Piñatex is a leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibre. The company Ananas Anam make Piñatex by extracting cellulose fibres from pineapple leaves before they are sun-dried and then mixed with a PLA (polylactic acid) to create a base felt. This goes on to form several different types of pineapple material.

How sustainable is Piñatex?

The use of pineapple leaves means using a waste produce of the pineapple industry that farmers would normally burn or leave to rot. This requires no additional land, water, pesticides or fertilisers for the base of this material. Ananas Anam emphasise that the production process is much greener than that of animal leather production; toxic chemicals and heavy metals are avoided, and there is no material wastage caused by the shape of the animal’s skin.

Ananas Anam labels itself a company with “a positive social impact and low environmental impact”. The pineapple leather project supports rural farming communities by providing additional income to pineapple farmers and year-round work, as opposed to only relying on seasonal harvests.

Piñatex is not 100% biodegradable. Ananas Anam state that the base material is biodegradable under controlled industry conditions, but doesn’t explain said process nor does it include the end-of-life process for the other materials in Piñatex.

PLA (polylactic acid) is sometimes called a bio-plastic. Manufacturers source it from renewable materials and it can be commonly labelled ‘biodegradable’. However, the United Nations Environmental Program released a study raising doubts over the new materials’ impact on reducing the harm done to marine life when plastic enters the oceans.

For strength, durability and water resistance, the final ingredient to add is a resin. The Piñatex site states that they use a ‘water-based PU resin which is REACH compliant’, but other sources claim it is petroleum-based.

Despite these points, Piñatex is still PETA approved and registered by the Vegan Society.

This image illustrates the pineapple leather manufacture process, as well as the goal to eventually recycle or degrade it.

How does Piñatex work functionally?

At MPLG we have found that this vegan leather behaves well in terms of skiving and splitting. However, due to the nature of the base material it does lead to a significant loss of strength which may be an issue in larger items. We can advise on the best way to reinforce a large bag and this is best dealt with at the design / sampling stage.

The deep grained effect of the surface is sound and consistent in terms of thickness and quality but can lead to “bleeding” issues when foil blocking a logo. We have encountered no issues embossing without foil.

We would point out to anybody considering Piñatex that for this particular “classic” version the base material is quite fibrous in texture. This can compromise fine work on small accessory goods such as card wallets. In particular, it makes edge finishing / painting more time consuming and less consistent.

There is a new range of Piñatex called Performance due to be launched soon which has a smoother, flatter surface and supposedly higher strength for use in upholstery. We have not had a chance to review this new material yet.

How can we source Piñatex?

You can find contact details for Piñatex and the manufacturer, Ananas Anam in the list of suppliers within in the materials section on our website.

Conclusion

Ananas Anam represents the direction in which the textile industry is, and perhaps should be, moving; towards a more sustainable, responsible future. Piñatex is a good alternative to animal hide and performs adequately in terms of durability. However, if the priority is strength and a smoother surface, we recommend vegan leather Viridis (reviewed in our previous blog) and Deserto (for future review by MPLG).

For more information about us, please visit our website. Alternatively, give us a call and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions!


MPLG Ltd is a private label manufacturer of premium quality bags, backpacks and wallets, in leather, synthetics or textiles, for international brands. Established in 1976; we have capabilities and expertise in every area of sampling and production. We make all items in our own factory in Manchester, England.

All content and opinions stated here are to the best of our knowledge, true and correct. We cannot be held liable for any unintentional errors or omissions. We recommend that you make your own detailed enquiries before making any decision based on the above information.

© MPLG Ltd 2021