Taiga Matsumoto, 20, a university student who attended the event, said, “I can’t tell the difference from real leather.” “When functionality and design are the same, I choose the eco-friendly one”. The products are designed by bag and accessory company Lovst Tokyo. “Using artificial leather made from plants reduces animal husbandry and, as a result, lowers carbon emissions,” said Kaito Karasawa, 31, president of the Tokyo-based company. “Many people are choosing to help the environment”.
Synthetic leather is nothing new, but leather made from apple trimmings is gaining attention from both businesses and consumers. Commonly called apple leather, this material is being used in a variety of commercial products overseas as people become more environmentally conscious and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are achieved. The material’s commercial development is also in Japan. is underway. At a recent sales event held at the Yurakucho Marui department store in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, bags and wallets made from Italian apple leather were displayed.
Apple leather is considered an ethical product because it is made with respect for the environment and people. In recent years, with the growing concern about climate change and human rights issues, it has been attracting attention. Vegetable leather is made by crushing dried apple cores and pomace and mixing it with resin, so it is characterized by less food loss. Apple leather is lightweight, stretchy and very similar in texture to animal leather. In recent years, the commercialization of apple leather products is progressing in Japan.
Sorena also works with artisans and local brands to experiment with a variety of items made with apple leather. Late last year, the company took pre-orders for a discounted Ringo Leather wallet on the crowdfunding website Makuake. Sorena plans to start selling Apple’s leather bags and business card holders on its official website in April. Yuri Ito, 38, president of Sorena, said, “We want to contribute to the revitalization of the local area as the apple skin-related industry takes root in Nagano Prefecture”.
Nagano-based startup Sorena partnered with Iizuna City, Nagano Prefecture and Kyowa Leather Cloth Co., Ltd., Shizuoka Prefecture to develop apple leather and named the material Ringo Leather. Mr. Iizuna purchases lees from various sources, including local sake breweries. The pomace is then dried and ground in a municipal facility. A person in charge of the city’s industry and tourism division said, “In aiming to become Japan’s number one apple city, it is attractive to make the most of apples and eliminate waste”.
Aomori-based startup Upcycle has developed a fabric called Ringotex made from apples grown in Aomori Prefecture. All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. selected Ringo-Tex fabric to create headrest covers for its sustainability-themed flight in October. Appcycle is currently developing more products for the average consumer and will launch them later this year.