Piñatex® was developed over seven 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 1990s. 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, the founder of 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 in her late 50s 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 leaves of the pineapple plant. These leaves are discarded from the pineapple harvest, so the raw material requires no additional environmental resources to produce.
The long fibres are extracted through a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community. Ananas Anam has developed the first automated decorticating machine to assist with this process, allowing farmers to utilise greater quantities of their waste leaves. Once the leaves have been stripped of fibre the leftover biomass can be used as a nutrient-rich natural fertiliser or a biofuel, so nothing is wasted.
The fibres then get degummed and undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven mesh, which forms the base of Piñatex®.
The rolls of non-woven mesh are then transported to Spain for specialised finishing. This unique process is what gives Piñatex® its leather-like appearance, creating a textile that is soft and flexible, yet very durable.
The finished textile is distributed to designers directly by Ananas Anam, who use it as a sustainable alternative to leather in footwear and fashion accessories, clothing, interior furnishing and automotive upholstery.
The life cycle
Innovative developments require a supportive supply chain. Ananas Anam is proud to work with these partners through the continued development and production of the range of Piñatex® products.
Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative
Asia Textile Mills Inc.
Nonwoven Fabric Phils. Inc.
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