Wastea is a Turkish company working to transform dry tea industry waste into an animal-free leather alternative.
Tea waste has few applications, as its caffeine content is too high to be used in animal feed or the food industry. It is also unsuitable for bio-energy generation, meaning it is usually sent to landfill or incinerated.
Wastea has developed a processing method to turn the waste — which includes stems, leaves, and buds — into a sustainable leather alternative that is up to 95% bio-based. The material is available in a variety of colors and can be used in the fashion, automotive, and homeware industries, among others.
Turkey is the world’s fourth-largest tea producer, meaning that tea waste is a local and almost limitless resource. Furthermore, it is a highly sustainable crop, as it is grown without pesticides and at high altitudes where no additional water is necessary.
Wastea was recently recognized at the V-Label awards, where it was named one of five winners in the Innovation category. The brand is owned by Scays Group, an Istanbul-based producer of sustainable materials.
Some types of tea waste cannot be turned into vegan leather; to use these, Scays Group has developed an eco-friendly construction material called Wasment, which is produced by grinding the waste into a fine powder and combining it with other elements such as cement. The resulting material is said to be very durable, with good thermal insulation properties.
“Our aim is to replace leather, polyurethane, and polyvinyl chloride materials with our Wastea product for a better future for the environment and the future generations,” Erdem Dogan, managing director of Scays Group, told STiR. “The market response is very good, and we have inquiries from all brands of textiles over to automotive.”