Is apple leather biodegradable? 

This article will assess the biodegradability aspect of apple leather. Other covered aspects would include: 

  • Will apple leather biodegrade?
  • Can you compost apple leather?
  • Can apple leather be recycled?
  • Is apple leather more ethical than conventional leather?
  • How sustainable is apple leather?
  • FAQs

Is apple leather biodegradable?

Apple leather is not biodegradable because apple leather also contains polyurethane and polyester, other than apple waste. 

PU and polyester are synthetic polymers that are not biodegradable. The use of PU and PVC is there to ensure appropriate functionality so that apple leather may be preferred by consumers. 

In many ways, apple leather is better than conventional leather because it uses fewer fossil fuels, contributes less to carbon emissions, and alleviates food waste problems. 

Apple leather is also vegan and more ethical than conventional leather because it ensures human rights and decreases animal killing just for the sake of leather. 

Is apple leather natural or synthetic?

There is a direct relation between a product being natural or non-natural and its biodegradability. This is because there is a general rule of thumb that natural materials are usually biodegradable as compared to non-natural materials. 

Natural materials are mostly made from organic or biomolecules which can be used as food by the microbes that will degrade them. In the case of synthetic materials, there are no such constituents and as a result, synthetic chemicals and materials would not be degraded by the action of microbes. 

Apple leather, as the name can indicate, is made from a green and natural thought. However, if we probe deep into the matter, it will be found that although apple leather is made from apple waste, it also contains synthetic materials such as polyurethane (PU) and polyester. 

These materials are added to increase and augment the utilitarian factor or functionality of apple leather. If these synthetic materials are not added, then apple leather will not be durable enough to be preferred by consumers. 

Other than these materials, apple leather also contains cotton which, again, is a natural material. Therefore, in the light of above points, it can be claimed that apple leather is made up of both natural and non-natural materials. 

Will apple leather biodegrade?

There are certain factors that determine the biodegradability of any product or material. Before we probe into that, let us explore the basic definition of biodegradability. 

Biodegradability will be defined as the breakdown of waste by the action of microbes and by the facilitation of external factors such as temperature, aeration, sunlight et cetera.

Biodegradability is an important determinant to determine the greenness or eco-friendliness of any product or material. If a product is biodegradable, it will most probably contain natural materials and will be significantly eco-friendly as compared to non-biodegradable materials. 

As regards the factors that determine the biodegradability of any product, these are: 

  • How readily a product will degrade in natural conditions
  • What is the environmental impact of the particular product 

In light of these two points, it can be said that apple leather is not biodegradable because it is coated with PU and polyester which are non-biodegradable polymers. 

As regards the other factor, apple leather can be called an eco-friendly product because it is made with a green thought which is to deal with and utilise food waste. However, due to the use of synthetic polymers, there still will be degradative effects on the environment. 

Synthetic polymers are mostly made at the expense of fossil fuel derivatives which means that when these materials are used, there is a burning of fossil fuels which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This leads to environmental problems such as global warming et cetera. 

Can you compost apple leather?

No, you can not compost apple leather although it has the word apple in it. One may be lured into thinking that since apple waste can be composted, apple leather can also be composted. However, this assumption is incorrect. 

Composting may be explained as the process of making compost from waste. This compost may be used as a natural fertiliser which can replace artificial fertilisers. 

However, there are certain conditions that are necessary for composting. These include:

  • The product should be natural 
  • The product should be non-toxic 
  • The product should be biodegradable 
  • The product should not emit harmful fumes

These conditions exist because compost has to be added to the soil as a fertiliser. If the compost is harmful then there will be more harm done than good. 

Since apple leather comprises materials such as PU and polyester, it is not advisable to compost apple leather. There could be degradative and negative complications, ramifications, and reciprocations. 

However, if in future, apple leather is made purely from natural and biodegradable materials then it will be possible to compost apple leather. As of now, this is not a possibility.

Can apple leather be recycled?

This section will cover another green strategy that you can use to deal with apple leather while also ensuring that the environment is not damaged or harmed significantly.

You can also recycle apple leather. Recycling can be explained as the reusing of apple leather after processing and modifications. Recycling offers the following advantages: 

  • Better waste management
  • Better resource management
  • Decreased pressure on raw materials
  • Decreased carbon footprint
  • Decreased energy consumption

When apple leather is recycled, they are not required to be made from scratch. This saves energy and pressure on raw materials. By recycling apple leather, you are ensuring that fewer trees are cut. 

This is important because we already face grave scenarios in the context of tree cutting. It is estimated that since the conception of human ways, the tree count has decreased by more than 50%. 

Trees are the essential entities that save us from environmental anomalies. Trees are regarded as the environment cleaner because they suck carbon dioxide and release oxygen. 

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is responsible for the causation of environmental anomalies such as global warming, deforestation, acid rain, and weather changes. 

Another advantage that can be explained about apple leather is that since apple leather also contains substances such as PU, recycling is one of the best options available; much better than simply throwing it in a garbage dump. 

When apple leather is recycled, it is ensured that the non-biodegradable materials used in apple leather are put to good use instead of just harming the environment or being a part of a landfill indefinitely. 

That is why recycling is considered to be one of the best solutions to deal with non-biodegradable waste such as synthetic polymers. 

How to recycle apple leather?

When it comes to the recycling of apple leather, there are one of the two things that you can do. These are: 

  • Putting apple leather in recycling bins
  • Transporting apple leather to recycling centres 

Recycling bins

Apple leather, since can be recycled, can be put in recycling bins so that the authorities may collect them. If you do not know, the green-coloured dustbins are particularly dedicated to recyclable materials.

Recycling centres 

If you are uncertain about the first option, there is another thing that you can do to ensure that the apple leather is recycled. This involves having the apple leather recycled in the recycling centres. This can be done through: 

  • Transporting apple leather to recycling centres
  • Having a collection done from the nearest recycling centres 

Is apple leather more ethical than conventional leather?

Yes, apple leather is definitely more ethical than conventional leather because conventional leather is made by the killing of animals. 

It is often said that the leather produced is not a by-product of animal meat but rather a co-product because, in many places, animals are solely killed for the acquisition of animal leather. 

The problem is not just with animal cruelty, the problem also expands to the human right violation. This is because much of the leather tanning and processing is done in countries such as China or under-developed countries where there are negligible human rights. 

People are made to work without ethical conformities and accountability and this raises serious ethical problems and reservations. The use of apple food waste instead, solves many of these problems and that is why apple leather is regarded as a more ethical and ‘vegan’ solution to the leather problem and dilemma. 

How sustainable is apple leather? (5 factors) 

Let us talk briefly about the sustainability and eco-friendliness of apple leather. It has been discussed that apple leather does contain synthetic polymers such as polyurethane and polyester. 

However, let us compare how eco-friendly apple leather is in the context of other forms of leather. For that, consider the following points: 

  • Apple leather alleviates the food waste problems
  • Apple leather is made of PU which accounts for less carbon emissions as compared to cow leather
  • Apple leather contributes less to environmental problems such as deforestation
  • The use of fossil fuels in apple leather production is less as compared to cow leather
  • Apple leather is made from partly renewable, biobased resource

Conclusion

It can be concluded that apple leather is not biodegradable because apple leather also contains polyurethane and polyester, other than apple waste. 

PU and polyester are synthetic polymers that are not biodegradable. The use of PU and PVC is there to ensure appropriate functionality so that apple leather may be preferred by consumers. 

In many ways, apple leather is better than conventional leather because it uses fewer fossil fuels, contributes less to carbon emissions, and alleviates food waste problems. 

Apple leather is also vegan and more ethical than conventional leather because it ensures human rights and decreases animal killing just for the sake of leather. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is apple leather biodegradable?

Is apple leather vegan?

Yes, apple leather is vegan because it is made from apple waste instead of animal skins. 

What is the future of apple leather?

The future of apple leather is perceived to be made from whole natural materials instead of non-biodegradable polymers so that its environmental impact may be further reduced. 

References

  • Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B. P., Ugwu, C. U., & Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of plastics. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(9), 3722-3742.
  • Ruiz, N. A. Q., Demarchi, S. M., Massolo, J. F., Rodoni, L. M., & Giner, S. A. (2012). Evaluation of quality during storage of apple leather. LWT, 47(2), 485-492.
  • de Aquim, P. M., Hansen, É., & Gutterres, M. (2019). Water reuse: An alternative to minimise the environmental impact on the leather industry. Journal of environmental management, 230, 456-463.

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