What is biomass?
In a time where concerns over climate change and depletion of non-renewable resources are increasing drastically, It is imperative that we realize the importance of using alternative resources. Biomass is renewable organic material that derived from plants and animals. In addition to electricity and fuels, biomass can be used to create valuable chemicals and materials, known as “bioproducts.” Bio-based products are wholly or partly derived from materials of biological origin, excluding materials embedded in geological formations and/or fossilised. In industrial processes, enzymes are used in the production of chemical building blocks, detergents, pulp and paper, textiles, etc. By using fermentation and bio-catalysis instead of traditional chemical synthesis, higher process efficiency can be obtained, resulting in a decrease in energy and water consumption, and a reduction of toxic waste. As they are derived from renewable raw materials such as plants, bio-based products can help reduce CO2 and offer other advantages such as lower toxicity or novel product characteristics (e.g. biodegradable plastic materials).
Fossil fuels or Biomass?
It seems easy to accept that bio-based products are, without a doubt, better than fossil fuel-based products, but are they? What’s the difference?
The fundamental difference between energy supply from fossil fuels and from biomass: burning fossil fuels releases carbon that has been locked up in the ground for millions of years, while burning biomass emits carbon that is part of the biogenic carbon cycle. In other words, fossil fuel use increases the total amount of carbon in the biosphere-atmosphere system while bioenergy systems operates within this system; biomass combustion simply returns to the atmosphere the carbon that was absorbed as the plants grew.
The Upsides of Biomass
They have the potential to tackle environmental issues such as climate change, since biofuels can provide greenhouse gas savings and improve air quality. Biomass absorbs CO2 (carbon dioxide) during its growth, which is released again during the use phase or waste phase. That means bio-based products can be considered climate-neutral.
Bio-based products help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, a finite resource.
Biobased products, through petroleum displacement, have played an increasingly important role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that exacerbate global climate change. Biobased products are cost-comparative, readily available, and perform as well as or better than their conventional counterparts.
Production of biomass requires the use of fertilisers, which result in emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 298 times stronger than CO2.
Fossil fuels are needed to produce the fertiliser and bio-based fuels for agriculture, transport and processing.
There is impact from land use or, as we call this in LCA jargon, ‘impact in ecosystems’. Biomass production requires land. Either new land needs to be made ready for agriculture, causing a change in land use, or the land needed to grow biomass needs to compete with the land required for food production.
Why the source matters
Another important consideration is the type of bio-based source we are referring to. In the case of biofuels, there are big differences in impact between first and second-generation biofuels.
First-generation biofuels are generally made from commodity crops that can also be used as feedstock, for example: corn, wheat, or sugar cane.
Second-generation biofuels utilise non-food crops: co-products, agricultural residues and waste. That makes the second-generation biofuels more efficient, as they generally don’t require new production of crops and reutilise residues which would otherwise end up as waste.
Most brands utilize PVC to create synthetic leather, while others use first generation byproducts like trees, wheat and other natural resources. This leads to land depletion as new production of crops is required.
Vegatex utilizes apple remanentes in order to create all material. Essentially we recycle the waste byproducts that would be otherwise disposed of and give it new life. We believe in creating a better, more environmentally friendly world.
Problem of Synthetic Vegan Leather
When it comes to Faux Leather or synthetic leather the problem is that not all vegan leather is created equal. Only certain types of leather are truly considered eco-friendly. Many companies try to greenwash their products as “natural” because they’re made of vegan leather but Instead, they manufacture their products with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane, or polyamide microfiber. Faux leather made out of PVC is known to be potentially harmful to your health. During the process of creating PVC faux leather, the material’s main components are released into the air and become pollutants. Faux leather also leaks toxic chemicals into the ground when placed it landfills, and emits toxic gasses when burned in an incinerator.
Vegan leather made from apples
APPLE Leather alternatives are bio-based materials made using the leftover pomace and peel from the fruit juice and compote industry. The Process: The material is created by first taking the recovered apple waste and reducing it to a powder. This biomass powder is then mixed with other natural agricultural fibres through a process where it is combined with polyurethane and coated onto a plant based material. Generally the biobased content can vary, no less than 50% mixed with 50% waterborne PU. The result is a durable, environmentally friendly, breathable material (thanks to its organic composition), that is smooth to the touch, and good for hard wearing small accessories.