“We can no longer only use sustainable materials or natural resources.”
Founded in September 2020, the zero-waste fashion startup from Portugal started off as a footwear producer focused on sneakers made from recycled paper and organic grape waste. After receiving a message on LinkedIn in January 2021 from Nespresso CEO Guillaume Le Cunff, asking “What about coffee?”, Babin realised that there was no coffee leather commercially available on the market and was inspired to innovate a new coffee material that could be transformed into sneakers.
Re:Ground, a limited-edition line of coffee sneakers by Zèta constructed from 80% recycled and repurposed materials, was inspired by the ideas of zero-waste, eco-design, and French elegance. The capsule series of sneakers includes 12 espressos’ worth of recycled Nespresso coffee grounds in each pair of shoes, as stated by the company.
In order to lessen its carbon footprint, Zèta is dedicated to working in close proximity to its manufacturing facility with exclusively European suppliers. Therefore, used coffee grounds from Nespresso recycling facilities in Europe are used to make vegan coffee leather in Portugal. At these facilities, used coffee grounds are extracted and separated from aluminum capsules.
Although the sustainability efforts of Nestlé subsidiary Nespresso are often considered controversial, the company claims that its “central focus is moving towards the sustainable production of coffee and engaging consumers in the importance of sustainable consumption.
“We can no longer only use sustainable materials or natural resources. We have an abundance of waste we can use. The idea was to give another life to waste and create a new product combining innovation, aestheticism, and durability,” Babin concludes.
Leather Made From Coffee
Nespresso, one of the world’s largest coffee companies, is not the only international company that views coffee leather as a potential replacement for leather in the future. In 2021, the German Volkswagen Group announced that it would be “working on the next generation of ecological materials for vehicle interiors.”
The car manufacturer is committed to sourcing non-animal materials and is currently working on optimising its coffee leather, stating that “Volkswagen is now testing whether the coffee imitation leather with the silverskins as a filler meets the stringent quality criteria that Volkswagen has set for materials used in vehicle construction.”