Almost half of all fruit produced per year is wasted. Much of this waste comes from the desire of wanting only “perfect” fruit. If the aesthetics of the fruit don’t meet consumer demands then they are not sold. Although we can see changes happening in this sector towards utilisation of all produce, lots of waste is still produced at home. Looking at ways to use this fruit can help to not only create less waste, but it also means we will have better material options that are compostable and require no virgin materials. An example of this is textile designer Youyang Song’s material made from fruit peels and algae.
Peelsphere is a 100% biodegradable and circular plant-based material that offers an alternative to leather. Song and her team use advanced material engineering to create the versatile material which is able to be adapted to suit many applications. The waterproof textile can be hardened to form accessories like buttons, or left malleable and soft for items such as bags. To add to the aesthetic quality the material is also able to be coloured with natural pigments, or embossed to give texture and pattern. Its makeup allows it to be embroidered, woven, and knitted to create infinite patterns, thus creating zero waste.
The project began by asking local fruit juice suppliers for leftover banana and orange peel. Then a manufacturing process was designed to extract the fibre and pectin from the peels. These materials were then mixed and ground, before using a bio-binder. At this liquid stage the material is poured onto a flat surface to form a sheet. Once fully dried this sheet can be processed through laser-cutting or 3D printing, so that it can be made into specific shapes and sizes. Final outcomes include bags, bowls, buttons, and other fashion accessories. But the final material is completely circular, as it can be remanufactured using a closed-loop system, so can be remade into any other product before it biodegrades.
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