Dutch designers turn food waste into (fruit) leather

Fruitleather Rotterdam material
© Fruitleather Rotterdam

Finally, a vegan leather.

This fruit leather isn't meant to be packed in lunch bags. It's meant to be the lunch bag.

Food waste is a very serious issue, and while some of that waste can be reduced before it gets to the point of being tossed, there's still bound to be a certain amount of spoiled fruit and vegetables that will have to be disposed of after the fact. Composting the food waste into a valuable soil amendment is one way to deal with it, and feeding livestock with it is another, but one group of designers from the Netherlands has yet another idea - turn it into leather.

The Fruit Leather Rotterdam project, which is the brainchild of a collective of designers studying at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, found that about 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) of unsellable fruits and vegetables are thrown away on an average day at the city's largest outdoor market, which vendors must pay to dispose of. According to the project's website, having to pay to get rid of the unusable produce leads some vendors to illegally dump it instead, which causes additional issues.

The team came up with an alternative use for at least some of these spoiled fruits by processing them into a new material, a "fruit leather" that could be used for a variety of applications, including making bags or furniture, and perhaps even clothing.

"By producing this on large scale with the unsellable fruits from the market, a new kind of material is created. This material can be used in many different ways, creating many different products. We ourselves have created a design bag made completely out of the fruitleather material. The bag shows the quality and possibilities that fruitleather has to offer as a material." - Fruitleather Rotterdam

The following video is in Dutch, but shows a little bit of the fruit leather magic happening:

According to Mashable, the exact process used by the team to make the fruit leather is a secret, but it includes removing the seeds from the food waste, cutting and mashing the fruit, then boiling it (thereby killing bacteria that would lead to rotting), and then spreading it out to dry on a "specific surface."

A video posted to the project's Facebook page shows a little bit about the purpose, process, and potential for this food waste project, which isn't meant to fabricate specific objects, but is instead highlighting one possible solution to food waste. The team is said to be working to make the fruit leather more durable, increase its strength, and test its resistance to water and other liquids, and could potentially work with companies or organizations to improve the material and create products from it.

Dutch designers turn food waste into (fruit) leather
Finally, a vegan leather.

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