ELeather CEO discusses the advancements in the sustainable startup space. Originally founded in the UK in 2007, ELeather now exports over 90% of its sales to more than 50 countries and boasts Nike and EasyJet as customers. Its mission is to be the leading creator of sustainable and innovative materials, offering businesses and consumers the undeniable quality of leather, but not at the cost of damaging the planet in the process.
“With the climate and all things environmentally friendly a necessity and at the forefront of consumer and business minds, we are beginning to see more and more companies ramping up their sustainability pledges and credentials in a bid to gain consumer interest, trust, and loyalty.
It’s fascinating to see the pace and breadth of next-generation materials being developed to help address the heavy environmental impact of the traditional materials used in fashion and other consumer markets. It seems that hardly a week goes by without another “green” material being touted as the saviour to planet’s undeniable climate crisis. In today’s environment many companies are stepping up on their commitment to using eco-friendly packaging, reducing their overall carbon footprint, and adding sustainable efforts to their supply chain, especially with a stronger focus on scope 3 emissions and increasing regulations.
Yet, in the midst of this, others are simply ‘greenwashing’ – a term widely used across sectors when brands and businesses are misleading customers on the positive impact they have on the environment. As a company with sustainability at its heart, we believe it’s vital that businesses communicate honestly and with authenticity about their sustainability efforts to help avoid greenwashing.
As an entrepreneur and business leader within the sustainable materials space we focus on helping brands achieve their environmental goals through increasing recycled content, lowering carbon emissions and preserving the earth’s resources with zero manufacturing waste and 100% green energy. It is refreshing to see how capitalism, although far from perfect, can be a driver of rapid market-focused innovation. Contrast this with decades of political wrangling, compromise, and water-downed commitments that on their own will fail spectacularly to achieve their stated objectives.
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As the next-gen materials industry undisputedly goes through a process of ‘natural selection’ and development, we will likely see a relatively small cluster of technology solutions and companies that will emerge as the big winners over the next decade. It is easy to get carried away with neat-sounding technologies, but the harsh reality is that the winning materials will need to deliver at scale on a number of factors:
1) material performance; meeting or exceeding the durability, appearance and haptics that consumers take for granted
2) unit cost/affordability; large scale adoption will require something close to cost-parity with legacy materials
3) verifiable and transparent sustainability impact; giving consumers simple and relevant information which is easy to digest to base purchasing decisions on
In my view, the critical question is which technologies and companies will be able to demonstrate to global brands and consumers that they can deliver on all of these at scale and in the timeframe that is required – it is a matter of either surviving, thriving, or failing. As a previous boss of mine continuously reminded me, “time is our only competitive advantage”.
Further education and explanation is needed to ensure consumers are empowered with the correct information, instantaneously, especially when making sustainable purchases. The race for companies and brands is on to set themselves apart from their peers whilst having a positive environmental impact at a time when there is significant consumer demand, sustainability commitments and technological developments!”