NFW and Lenzing Co-Create Biodegradeable, Plastic-Free Vegan Leather for Fashion Industry

Two bio-based and plant material experts, Lenzing Group and Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) have partnered to create an animal- and plastic-free leather alternative suitable for clothing, footwear, and accessories.

The collaboration involves the use of Lenzing’s brand of cellulose-based and plastic-free fibers, called TENCEL, as a backing option in NFW’s plant-based MIRUM leather to make the final product reusable and biodegradable. 

“At NFW, we believe that plant matter is the only material that can scale to replace plastic”

While most alternatives rely on polyurethane to bind and make leather backings, this partnership will allow fashion industry designers to work with a completely sustainable leather.

Allbirds plant pacer

animal and plastic-free leather shoes
© Allbirds

Oihana Elizalde, VP of MIRUM at NFW, commented: “At NFW, we believe that plant matter is the only material that can scale to replace plastic. By adding fabrics made of TENCEL to MIRUM, we can enhance material transparency and traceability while guaranteeing comfort and a great hand feel on the skin.”

“One of the best examples of the collaboration is the Allbirds plant pacer which just released last fall and features MIRUM with TENCEL backing,” she added.


Austria’s Lenzing Group is a global textile and nonwoven manufacturer, developing fibers made from renewable raw wood material produced via environmentally responsible processes. The Group is listed in Beyond Investing’s Vegan World Index.

Among many innovations, Lenzing’s flagship brand TENCEL includes different types of compostable and biodegradable fibers offering endless design possibilities, versatility, and enhancement of fabrics’ functionality. TENCEL™ Luxe has been registered by the Vegan Society.

TENCEL's fibers circular economy
© Lenzing Group

Founded in 2015 and based in Peoria, Illinois, Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) develops and manufactures sustainable products from plants using naturally circular, biobased ingredients for a plastic-free future. NFW’s unique approach incorporates biobased charcoal, clay, cork powder, rice hulls, coconut fibers, recycled denim, or seaweed to develop color or add visual interest.

NFW’s MIRUM plant-based leather offers “miraculous customizability,” meaning it can have any desired appearance — leather or carbon fiber — allowing designers and brands to expand their creative palettes with a reduced environmental footprint. 

Made from natural rubber, plant, mineral pigments, plant-based oils, and waxes, with an all-natural fabric backing made with TENCEL fibers, MIRUM’s life cycle ends in a new MIRUM or as compost.

Head of Business Development Functional Wear and Footwear, Global Textiles Business at Lenzing AG, Birgit Schnetzlinger, said: “We are thrilled to align our sustainable materials with innovations like MIRUM. With the added backer fabric made of TENCEL branded fibers, we not only enhance the level of transparency and traceability of MIRUM but also enhance product comfort while reducing our carbon footprint. We are confident that the combination of versatile material will be loved by supply chain partners and brands across footwear, fashion apparel, accessories, furniture, and automotive industries.”

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