Materials

Upcycling Fruit Waste Brings Another Innovation: ‘Banofi’ Banana Leather

Banofi is a premium banana leather developed by Kolkata-based material innovation firm Atma Leather by upcycling banana crop waste and transforming it into fibres.

“We are one of the first companies in India to foray into the sector and, specifically, the first to use banana crop waste”

India, said to be the world’s largest producer of bananas, generating four tons of waste for every ton of fruit, is also one of the world’s largest leather exporters. Jinali Mody, Atma’s founder, saw the value of using banana waste in the creation of a petroleum-free, premium plant-based material in order to offer an alternative to leather in a cowhide dominant market.

banana leather
© Banofi

Sustainability challenge

Mody took her idea to Startup Yale in April 2022, succeeding in securing $25,000 from the Sustainable Venture Prize to launch her company, Atma (meaning “soul”), with the aim of tackling two sustainability fronts: crop waste and leather production.

Already in India, she formed the company’s R&D crew of experts across the leather, textiles, design, agriculture, and material science industries. After many trials and tests, Atma developed Ban-o-Fi (Banana Fibre Leather) using 60% banana fibres, 20% natural additives, and other 20% synthetic additives needed for the leather backing.

According to Atma, its banana leather has a significantly lower environmental impact using 90% less water and producing 90% less carbon dioxide than animal leather. The brand focuses on innovating and reducing its dependence on polymers: “True sustainability is extremely challenging and is the mission we are deeply dedicated to.”

banana leather
© Banofi

Fruits turned into leather

Fruit waste is increasingly being transformed into vegan leather, reducing waste and pollution and helping to create cruelty-free and sustainable materials for the fashion industry.

In Spain, Persiskin launched a vegan leather made from leftover persimmons, while Piñatex uses pineapple leaves to create a luxury alt leather, a favourite among eco-consumers. Other companies are leveraging fruit waste, using tamarind pods and apples to make shoe collections, watches,  bags, and accessories.

“We are one of the first companies in India to foray into the sector and, specifically, the first to use banana crop waste,” says Atma Leather.

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