There is no doubt that sustainability has become the mantra of the Portuguese textile industry, and in the struggle to make each fabric greener is an unavoidable front: fighting waste. Within the Texboost project, ERT internalized this goal, looking for a new life for the leather and EVA waste from the company’s production lines. In partnership with research centres, the company developed a new textile coating, which is suggestively presented as a “Mermaid dress”.
The product is the result of three years of work, which began when ERT realized that it was time to look at the company’s production waste, especially “the leather cuts that we use for automotive interior coatings, and the soles we develop for slippers, which create a lot of EVA [ethylene vinyl acetate foam] scraps”, explains Fernando Merino, the company’s innovation director.
To the challenge, the researchers responded with new textile coating. “It consists of a process that extracts and reuses a part of the leather protein, the collagen, transforming it from solid waste to a liquid state, which is then applied to other textile products”, summarizes Joaquim Gaião, responsible for the Innovation Development department at CTIC – Technological Centre for Leather Industries.
The leather extract is then combined with the EVA to achieve the final result, which is now being showcased as a dress called Mermaid. “The dress is an exhibition piece, but there will be other products, such as furniture, car parts, or wall cladding”.
The product’s performance is being tested at CITEVE, which will determine attributes such as resistance to friction and durability. The goal is to affirm this sustainable solution as a bet for the future. “At the moment, we already have partners in the automotive sector interested in this type of finishing, made from leather waste. And we are going to create a showroom where all products with this new solution will be presented”, says Fernando Merino.