Processing of mycelium leather: the search to a fully biodegradable leather-alternative.
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Leather is one of fashion’s highest luxury goods. However, the process of creating leather from animal hides is very polluting by making use of harmful chemicals that pollute rivers and the surrounding area. It is therefore important to search for sustainable alternatives that, preferably, are not created from depletable resources. Fungi might pose a solution for this problem. Grown on plant waste, they form a fluffy structure, called mycelium. When processed right, this mycelium material can be molded into a leather-like structure. The main challenge now is to create a material that is just as resilient, waterproof and tear resistant as animal leather. Several methods are being researched to achieve these goals. However, many conventional methods still make use of plastics, which results in a material that is not biodegradable anymore. In this review, these processing methods are evaluated based on their sustainability and quality, and are compared to alternatives from the textile and animal leather industry. Based on this, sustainable processing methods are proposed that make mycelium leather a true sustainable product.