The amounts of leftover or overripe food (in the Western world) are gigantic. Normally, people turn to, oh, let's say composting, but now you can also turn your stinky, rotting fruit into - behold - leather!
A group of undergraduate design students from Willem de Kooning Academie in the Netherlands figured out a new, eco-friendly process that transforms leftover fruit and vegies into durable material that looks a bit like leather. "The academy gives us a perfect view over the Binnerotte Square in Rotterdam, where they have a market each Tuesday and Saturday. We saw how the square would be completely littered with food waste [at the end of the day], so ... we realized this was a problem we would want to solve from a designer's point of view," explained Hugo de Boon, a member of the designer team.
After looking into the matter, they found that every day around 3,500 kilograms of food is wasted. Market vendors are obliged to pay 12 cents per every kilogram to have waste food disposed of legally at designated biological dumping sites. Because the legal way is expensive, they often discard food illegally as well.
De Boon was pretty secretive about the details of the manufacturing process, but he did give away some basic information: "After collecting food waste from the market stands, the team makes sure all seeds are taken out of the fruit before they cut it up and mash it. Then they remove all bacteria from the fruit by boiling it, to ensure that it won't rot. The next step is spreading the paste onto a specific surface, which is crucial in the drying process. Once it's dried, the raw Fruitleather material is produced."
At the moment, the team is busy testing the various combinations of fruits and vegetables as well as the so-called "fruitleather's" strength, water resistance and durability. De Boon also added that various manufacturers of leather products (like leather car seats) are already expressing their interest in 'fruitleather', however the team wishes to test the quality of the material on their own, prior to making it available on the market.
Well, good luck, we are definitely keeping are fingers crossed! Food is not trash. Perhaps in the future, many markets selling fruit in and vegetables will understand this message and adapt their practices to something more eco-friendly, like creating new office chairs out of overripe mangos.