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  • Writer's picturePrachi Patil

Creating value from waste

Shoes from mango waste

With a passion for creating value for things that have been labeled useless, Fruitleather Rotterdam based in The Netherlands has placed itself in today’s circular economy. Their vision is not only to spread awareness of the food waste issue but also to show how waste, in general, can be used positively.

The cofounders Koen Meerkerk and Hugo de Boon are a Rotterdam-based designer duo who came up with a circular idea in 2015. They saw an increasing problem of leftover fruits at the Rotterdam market and Harbor. The fruit sellers had to pay per kilo to dispose of the wasted fruits in the market. The duo saw tremendous potential in the fruits being wasted and thought of converting this into a business opportunity. They started collecting the discarded mangoes from the fruit seller at no cost which turned out to be a win-win situation for them as well as the fruit seller. They settled on mangoes because the fruit was easy to work with and contained a lot of fibers useful for making leather.

How leather is made?

The discarded mangoes are collected by Fruitleather and processed which involves de-stoning and then crushing the fruit into a pulp. A bunch of natural additives is added so that the pulp turns into a leather-like material. The mixture is then poured onto metal baking trays that stay in a dehydrator overnight. Depending on the type of mango used, the color of the material changes after dehydration. A machine presses a thin layer of protective coating onto the leather and then passes through the oven. The sheets are then dried and undergo the same process multiple times until the leather becomes durable. Pressure is applied to combine the layers of coating. Then the leather is sold to designers around the world. This helps to reduce emissions and create value from the waste.


Thoroughly understanding the problem and then innovatively thinking about a triple-bottom-line solution is critical for creating a circular economy.

Food waste makes up about 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions, making it a top contributor to climate change. In today’s world, we need such innovative businesses to address this crisis and reduce our carbon footprint.



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