Italian ‘eco-leather’ is new use for dust from hemp fiber

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Italian developers have introduced Napee, an “eco-leather” textile containing hemp waste powder that does not use toxic solvents in the production process, is recyclable and has a negative carbon impact.

Developers Alessandro Fabbri and Giuseppe Guido said Napee is the first 97% green coated fabric from a biopolymer based on natural oils with 20-30% hemp.

The bonded fabric is made by adding dust produced during the fiber decortication process to biopolymers which are then spread on a textile base. The result is a mixture of plants and resins that can undergo the printing, drumming and embossing processes into a final faux leather product that maintains breathability.

Advanced processes

The developers work with contractors who operate advanced technology for textile production that does not use traditional, polluting solvents; also, new generation polymers used in the process are partly biodegradable.

The company’s research is now aimed at developing biopolymers made directly from hemp in order to close a circular supply chain that is absorbing CO2 throughout. The developers are also studying the possibility of including a basalt filament yarn in the material that would make the eco-leather fireproof.

Fabbri has been experimenting with sustainable textiles since 2006, with a goal to develop waste material into commonly used articles. Guido, a former military officer, director of a theater company, and commercial agent in the fashion industry, has also studied sustainable materials.

Goal: local supply chain

The partners say they are sourcing hemp from all over Italy, but are developing a localized circular supply chain model that minimizes the need for transportation.

The company said it has held discussions with APM Automotive, France, which is already using hemp fibers in compounds for plastic car parts, and with fashion industry representatives through financier Furio Piermarioli, who is a backer.

The most promising first uses for the fabric are as a substitute for leather and imitation leather in boating, bags and accessories, shoes and upholstery, the company said.

Reporting: Canapa Industriale

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