Leather Alternatives

Biophilica and Sappi North America Unveil Treekind: A Sustainable “Leaf Leather” with Authentic Feel

The UK materials company Biophilica and Sappi North America, a producer and supplier of paper, packaging products, and pulp, have joined forces to introduce a new version of the leather alternative made from leaves, Treekind, with a 100% plastic-free coating. 

Sappi North America collaborated with Biophilica for two years to successfully apply a technology called textured release paper to Treekind to replace the plastic coating widely used in vegan leatherThis product provides Treekind with a high-fidelity, 3D leather grain texture with an authentic, non-plastic-like feel, explains Biophilica. 

Mark Hittie, Director of Release Business Strategy at Sappi North America, commented: “Inclusion of plastic-containing coatings has dominated the vegan leather industry, limiting consumers with few fully sustainable choices and a material that often has a plastic-like touch inferior to the quality or feel of traditional leather.

“Treekind is now a strong sustainable market opponent to natural leather products and other plastic-based vegan leathers due to its genuine look and feel.”

Treekind with Sappi's textured release paper technology
Treekind with Sappi’s textured release paper technology © Sappi North America

Leather made from leaves

Developed over five years by Biophilica, Treekind is said to be among the few leather alternatives that are 100% biobased, plastic-free, home-compostable, and PETA vegan-certified.

Biophilica gathers leaves and green waste from London parks and dries them into a powder. The powder is combined with a natural binder, dried into sheets, and then coated in a biobased layer to create a water-resistant and repellent material.

Treekind is compostable, verified in the ISO 14855-1 home composting test by Eurofins Ecotoxicology in France. It is also in the process of being USDA-certified as 100% biobased. 

A black bag made with Treekind
© Biophilica

Sustainable leather-like feel

In addition, Biophilica claims that its innovative material uses minimal water, contains no toxic chemicals, and has a reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional leather.

Treekind and its new 100% plastic-free coating have attracted positive feedback from brand partners and prospects, including sustainable luxury brands. Biophilica has already announced plans to expand its premium line of goods by incorporating other finishes and textures developed by Sappi.

“Curating the texture of Treekind to be as close to the feel of genuine leather as possible was a top priority for our team and brand, and what ultimately led us to seek Sappi’s textured release technology,” said Mira Nameth, founder and CEO of Biophilica. 

“We’re elated to see an impressive 85% increase in positive feedback from brand partners such as ID Genève watches and international brands via Fashion for Good.”

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