Piñatex® was developed over many years of R&D by Dr. Carmen Hijosa.
The journey of Piñatex® began while Carmen, a leathergoods expert, was consulting on the Philippines leather export industry in the 1990’s. Shocked at the environmental impact of mass leather production and chemical tanning she realised this could not continue, but knew that PVC alternatives were not the solution. She was driven to research a sustainable alternative.
Inspired by the abundance of natural resources, including the use of plant fibres in traditional weaving such as the delicate Barong Tagalog garments, Carmen sought to create a new, non-woven textile that could be commercially produced, provide positive social and economic impact and maintain a low environmental footprint throughout its life cycle.
From initial sampling to developing a viable supply chain, the Piñatex® journey is inspired by the principles of a Circular Economy and Cradle to Cradle values.
The use of pineapple leaf fibre, an agricultural waste product, provides the opportunity to build a scalable commercial industry for developing farming communities, with minimal environmental impact.
Dr. Carmen Hijosa, Founder and Chief Creative & Innovation Officer for Ananas Anam Ltd, is an ethical entrepreneur with a vision for a more sustainable future that connects people, environment and economy.
Originally from Spain, Carmen’s career has taken her around the world. With a background in leathergoods design and manufacturing she worked as an industry consultant, and was brought to the Philippines by the Design Centre Philippines in the 1990s, where the journey of Piñatex® began.
Her perseverance in developing a natural, sustainable leather alternative saw her undertake a PhD at the Royal College of Art (U.K.), further developing Ananas Anam through the incubator program at InnovationRCA.
Carmen’s vision connects people, ecology and economics to create a vibrant new industry that is both socially and environmentally responsible.
Recognised as a creative leader through awards including the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award (sustainable innovation – 2015) and the Innovate UK women in innovation award (sustainable materials – 2016), Carmen regularly shares her innovative views on sustainability at panels and events including TEDx talks.
With a commitment to research and innovation Carmen is directly involved in the ongoing development of Piñatex®.
“Design is a connecting tool between people, economics and the environment - and out of this communion, understanding and respect new ideas and products with integrity can come about.” Dr Carmen Hijosa
The Manufacturing Process
Piñatex® is made of ﬁbre from the waste leaves of the pineapple plant. These leaves are a by-product from existing pineapple harvest, so the raw material requires no additional environmental resources to produce.
After pineapple harvest, the suitable plant leaves which are left behind are collected in bundles and the long fibres are extracted using semi-automatic machines.
The fibres are washed then dried naturally by the sun, or during the rainy season in drying ovens. The dry fibres go through a purification process to remove any impurities which results in a fluff-like material.
This fluff-like pineapple leaf fibre (PALF) gets mixed with a corn based polylactic acid (PLA) and undergoes a mechanical process to create Piñafelt, a non-woven mesh which forms the base of all Piñatex collections.
The rolls of Piñafelt are then shipped by boat from the Philippines to Spain or Italy for specialised finishing.
To make the Original, Pluma and Mineral collections, the Piñafelt is coloured using GOTS certified pigments and a resin top coating is applied to give additional strength, durability and water resistance. A foil is heat pressed on to create the Metallic collection and a high solid PU transfer coating is used to create Piñatex Performance.
Piñatex is fit for use across fashion, accessories & upholstery and has been used by over 1000 brands worldwide including Hugo Boss, H&M and the Hilton Hotel Bankside.
The life cycle
In making Piñatex, 264 Co2 tons saved by using instead of burning 825 tons of waste leaves from the pineapple harvest – the burning of which would release the equivalent of 264 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
This is equivalent to charging more than 33 million smartphones.
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