By unlocking nature’s potential, Natural Fiber Welding is changing the face of the plastic industry. Using soon to be patented methods, the company is producing Mirum, a new style of leather that is made from agricultural waste and is fully biodegradable.
With a cost similar to plastic alternatives and the global demand for sustainable solutions growing, Mirum is poised to be one of the few scalable solutions that can meet the needs of billions of people. “The foundation of the company is plants, not plastic,” says Luke Haverhals, the founder and CEO of Natural Fiber Welding. Luke, who has a doctorate in analytical chemistry, began developing natural materials over a decade ago at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Fortified to be used again and again, Natural Fiber Welding has created a platform that involves blending natural ingredients like cork powder – a byproduct of the wine industry – and coconut fiber to create a durable leather with a light texture. This is done using their patented closed-loop platform, melding natural fibers together without the use of synthetic glues. “We figured out ways to basically get 100% natural composites that are bonded together using clever, controlled chemistry,” Haverhals says. The process works with virtually all natural materials that include cotton, flax, wood, industrial hemp, and other abundant materials at the molecular level without the need for chemicals or GMOs.
As reported by Fast Company, Natural Fiber Welding plans to go head to head with plastic-based leather materials. They are currently manufacturing custom samples for potential customers that range from the automotive industry to fashion brands. As they build out the infrastructure in their Illinois factory, it will soon have the capacity to produce millions of square feet of material. “The reason why we’re getting such traction from very large partners is that when we’re now talking about volumes and pricing, we can talk about volumes and pricing that compete with the plastic products in the market today,” Haverhals says.
Some limited-edition products will begin to come to market in 2019 with a broader rollout happening in 2020. When those products eventually wear out, they can safely go in a compost bin, unlike plant-based leathers that include some forms of plastic.