Turning pineapple waste into natural textiles
It wasn’t that long ago that pineapples were seen as a luxury - but now they can be found on supermarket shelves all year round, fuelling a 400% increase in global pineapple production since 1960. The downside of this phenomenal growth is 25 million tonnes of pineapple waste a year from the plant’s discarded leaves. Most of them are either burned or left to rot, generating high volumes of methane emissions, perhaps the most dangerous of the greenhouse gases.
Fast fashion has gone through a similar period of rapid growth in the last fifty years, with a similar impact on the environment. The sector is responsible for an estimated 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and uses around 93 billion cubic metres of water per year- or 4% of all freshwater extraction globally. This is set to double by 2030.
Ananas Anam have come up with a solution to both of these problems. Through repurposing the agricultural waste that comes from pineapple production it has created a series of natural textiles, Piñatex and Piñayarn, using the fibres from the discarded leaves. The leaves are collected in bundles before the long fibres are extracted using semi-automatic machines. The fibres are washed, dried naturally by the sun (or in a drying oven during rainy season) and then combined with a corn-based polylactic acid to create a non-woven mesh that forms the basis of the textiles.
As the name suggests, Piñayarn is a compostable and biodegradable yarn, while Piñatex offers a viable alternative to leather, doing away with the tanning process needed for animal skins that usually uses around 250 polluting chemicals. By not burning the leaves, there is also a CO2 emissions saving – the equivalent of 6kg of CO2 for each 1kg of yarn produced.
Not only does this solution offer a circular approach to textile production, but it’s also good for the farmers who produce the pineapples – Ananas Anam supports rural farming communities in Bangladesh like Eco-Fresh Agro, fostering strong partnerships through their transparent supply chain, and demonstrating that by reusing resources, we can do so much more than just follow fashion.
With thanks to the following individuals
Dr Carmen Hijosa, Founder and Chief Creative and Innovation Officer, Ananas Anam
Rony Khan, Co-Founder, Eco-Fresh Agro
Melissa Braithwaite, Piñayarn Development Manager, Ananas Anam
Jony Khan, General Factory Manager, Eco-Fresh Agro
and the following organisations for allowing us to use their footage
European Patent Office
Find out more about Ananas Anam
Learn about the work of The Sustainable Markets Initiative's Fashion Task Force