Crafting Leather from Coconut Water: The Malai Biomaterials Story

Malai Biomaterials: A beacon of sustainability, turning agricultural waste into high-quality vegan leather, offering ethical, eco-conscious alternatives for a greener tomorrow.

Crafting Leather from Coconut Water: The Malai Biomaterials Story

Friday November 17, 2023,

2 min Read

Malai Biomaterials, co-founded by Susmith from Kerala and Zuzana from Slovakia, is an innovative venture that epitomises the future of sustainable material development. Their groundbreaking project transforms organic bacterial cellulose into Malai, a versatile material derived from agricultural waste of the coconut industry in Southern India. This development marks a significant advancement in eco-friendly material innovation.

Malai stands out for its sustainability and adaptability, successfully being used in fashion accessories. It emulates leather's texture and durability, offering a biodegradable and vegan alternative to conventional leather widely used in fashion. This innovation is a part of the founders' broader commitment to sustainability, incorporating natural fibers like banana stem, hemp, and sisal into Malai, fostering a circular economy through compostable materials.

Since 2018, Malai Biomaterials has been renowned for its ecological approach, addressing environmental and ethical concerns in various industries. Their use of coconut water to create a material comparable to leather in functionality and aesthetic appeal has set a new standard in sustainable solutions.

As a PETA-approved entity, Malai's notable feature is its quick decomposition, breaking down within 90-150 days. This attribute highlights the multifaceted benefits of coconut, well-known for its healing and nutritional properties. Malai Biomaterials has ingeniously tapped into coconut water's potential to create an eco-friendly leather substitute.

The material is produced through a fermentation process involving waste coconut and other natural resources, resulting in a biodegradable, vegan product. This initiative reflects the founders' passion for sustainable fashion and environmental care, culminating in a product development phase funded by personal savings and conducted in a collaborative manufacturing unit in Karnataka.

The manufacturing process of Malai involves collecting and sterilising coconut water from Kerala farms. The cellulose produced is mixed with banana fiber or gum, forming sheets or 3D shapes. These are then treated with natural dyes and water-resistant coatings, offering various textures and hues.

Despite challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, Malai Biomaterials aims to expand into the Indian market, exploring new applications in furniture and interior design. With a monthly production capacity of 200 square meters, the company is poised to make a significant impact in sustainable material development.

Malai Biomaterials represents a paradigm shift in material innovation, blending traditional resources with modern research to offer eco-friendly alternatives. Their commitment to environmental and ethical manufacturing sets a precedent in the industry, heralding a future where sustainable choices are not only viable but also preferred.