Project Be Nature focus on developing sustainable products and materials


    The project aiming to develop biodegradable leather with minor impact to the environment was a success, with the objectives completely met, and with the resulting materials and products already commercialized in the international markets.

    An increasing number of European consumers is becoming more sensitive to environmental questions such as depletion of natural resources, deposition of materials and recyclable products in landfills and use of non-renewable energy, opting for more environmentally friendly products over others if prices are similar or present no major discrepancies. Aware of this global trend, many companies start to focus on the development of new products and processes that integrate solutions that are simultaneously sustainable and socially responsible.

    In this context of growing awareness, research project Be Nature was set up aiming to develop biodegradable and affordable leather, components and footwear. Be Nature gathered several entities such as tanning group ANC â?? António Nunes Carvalho, footwear company ComforSyst, the Science Faculty from Nova University (Lisbon), the Portuguese Footwear Technological Center (CTCP) and the Leather Industry Technological Center (CTIC). As part of the Be Nature project disintegrable leather in composting conditions was developed for incorporation in footwear, such as in exterior leather, outer lining and insoles. After 21 days in composting conditions this type of leather is completely disintegrated, as proved by tests based on the method described in the ISO 20200:2004 standard.

    Resulting from the projectâ??s achievements, a line of environmentally friendly products, designated BioNature was brought to the market by company tannery António Nunes de Carvalho, SA (ANC). The line of products is composed by a range of leather which enables the creation of disintegrable products, thus contributing to a more sustainable planet and a better future for the next generations.

    Nuno Carvalho from ANC notes that "there is growing awareness of the environmental consequences of our actions, both as producers and as final consumers. So, the concept of having an environmentally friendly solution for the lifeâ??s end of a certain item is viewed with great satisfaction by consumers".

    The company s CEO adds: "The demand for such products is already quite widespread. Initially the demand for such products was somewhat limited to brands that produced items labelled as â??Green", already using materials incorporating this concept (organic cottons, natural soles, etc.). However this time we are surpassing the barrier of this market niche (the Eco market), and the demand for these products begins to be increasingly widespread within the leather consuming industries."

    But the uses of the projectâ??s findings goes beyond materials and is resulting in innovative products, and early this year ComforSyst, the company owning the footwear brand Softwaves, launched a new ecofriendly collection called Green Edition, which uses BioNature leather.

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