Jeroen de Lange, alderman for economy, social affairs and employment of the municipality of Bergen op Zoom: “Companies like Fruitleather are the future new circular economy. They innovate and bring sustainable products to the market. This fits in perfectly with the social tasks and one of the spearheads on the Brabantse Wal, the biobased economy. I am happy about this.”
Fruit waste as valuable raw material for vegetable alternative for leather
Designers Koen Meerkerk and Hugo de Boon of Fruitleather convert discarded fruit into a sustainable, leather-like material. They collect mangoes, which otherwise have to be paid for as waste. They then convert it into a flexible material with a special coating so that it is strong enough to be used in products such as shoes, handbags and textiles.
Further development into industrial process
Currently, Fruitleather produces manually and in small quantities for customers all over the world. With the help of the incentive scheme, Fruitleather will analyse, optimise and scale up the current process together with the Green Chemistry Campus, an intern from Avans University of Applied Sciences and experts from the Natural Fibres Application Centre (NAC). The challenge is to produce on a larger scale, with consistent quality, at a competitive price and while maintaining the desired material properties.
Local factories in mango producing countries
Once the production process has been optimised and scaled up, it can also be set up locally in mango producing countries. This provides a valuable application for discarded mangoes, gives mango producers an additional source of income and provides an environmentally friendly alternative to regular leather tanning.
1.2 million via the Green Chemistry Campus for biobased SMEs
In September 2020, the municipality of Bergen op Zoom, in collaboration with the Green Chemistry Campus and with a financial contribution from the Province of Noord-Brabant, made € 1,187,500 available for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the European Union that are active in the biobased economy. A maximum of € 95,000 is available per application in the form of co-financing. The incentive scheme is popular: the current tranche is almost full, the next one will become available in June. Interested companies are advised to apply to the Campus now.