For Greener Pastures
For Greener pastures is a circular leather recycling infrastructure. Built upon the creation of a mechanical and material process that allows for the production of a waste leather composite.
A highly functional material made from a reversible biological binder and the waste of businesses within the leather industry. Allowing for their participation in a circular leather economy whilst gaining complete control over their products' life cycles and retaining value from their waste.
The only significant commercial leather recycling process being utilised within the leather market today is bonded leather. A process that is focused on the use of limited leather waste streams that only encompass a fraction of the existing issue. All of the leather used is sourced from pre-consumer cut-off waste, mixed with rubber latex. A process that creates a single-use recycled leather sheet that gets used for products until, they too, end up as waste.
Recycling material for a single application is better than having the material end up in a landfill the first time, but it is not the most effective way. The extension of the life of waste leather could be accomplished in a way that allows the recycled material to be returned and reprocessed multiple times within a circular recycling network.
The technology and infrastructure for such operations within the leather industry are non-existent, as current solutions for leather recycling are developed on a ‘one-time-use' basis.
Following a year of research, building machines, and testing materials, Gereon Wahle developed a process that utilises a combination of hide glue and shredded leather waste. Both by-products of the leather industry, this allows for the production of a circular leather composite material that can be used to make a variety of products. Possible to press into any shape, items that have reached the end of their life can be broken down, steamed, and re-pressed into new items. Effectively closing the recycling loop, with no loss of material and limited use of energy.
This is accompanied by an efficient material breakdown process that is established with the aim of achieving complete circularity, and a service framework that allows companies to take absolute advantage of their leather. Would allow for the recycling of both pre and post-consumer waste along the entirety of the material's life cycle – again and again.
Pre or post-consumer leather from industrial waste streams is shredded and mixed with hide glue, a biological adhesive made from the collagen of raw hide. Both byproducts of the leather industry, the mixed material is pressed using controlled heat and pressure and can be pressed into any shape. Once dried it can be processed in a similar manner to wooden sheet goods. If broken, the composite material can be recycled in a loop, as the hide glue binder is reversible, by shredding and re-pressing it. Making the process completely circular.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Leather, hide glue