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Mango Leather: India, world’s largest producer of mango offers an indigenous alternative to leather

India, the largest producer of mangoes in the world, has developed an eco-friendly alternative to animal leather known as “mango leather”. The Council for Scientific & Industrial Research-Central Leather Research Institute in Chennai created the leather-like material using mango pulp, a naturally derived polymer, and a production technique that can be mechanized.

Mango pulp is the primary raw material for the material. Researchers tested a wide range of agricultural by-products before settling on mango pulp to make the product. A Mumbai-based firm has purchased the exclusive rights to the patented production technology and plans to release belts, wallets, bags, and jewel boxes.

The researchers at CLRI hope that the new mango-based material can replace synthetic leathers, which can take decades to degrade, and offer a more sustainable option. Mango leather is expected to last at least five years and degrade naturally after disposal. The material can be processed further with surface coloration, coatings, and print designs to make it more appealing. The new technology has also led to the filing of patents for producing leather-like materials from rice straw, wheat straw, and sugarcane straw.

While the mango-based material cannot match the durability of animal leather, it has several advantages. The manufacturing process for animal leather requires huge amounts of water and other chemicals, while the mango-based material requires only a minimal amount. According to Dr. Thanikaivelan, the chief scientist at CLRI, the production of the mango-based sheets can be mechanized, and the team can produce a significant quantity in just three days. In contrast, the same quantity of original leather would require more than two weeks to make.

The team at CLRI experimented with all major varieties of mangoes, including Alphonso, Kesar, and Banganapalli, and proved that the material can be made from mangoes that come from across India. However, the process is specifically tailored to the needs of the partner firm, which required a leather-like material made from organic sources that can degrade naturally.

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