BEEN London works with Biophilica to create a plastic-free & compostable handbag made by Treekind™ ‘leaf leather’
Award-winning sustainable bag brand BEEN London has hit another milestone when it comes to turning trash into treasure. Known for making luxury accessories from materials that would otherwise end up in landfill, the brand has teamed up with Biophilica to make a groundbreaking prototype of a handbag that is plastic free, estimated carbon negative, biodegradable, locally sourced, vegan and recyclable, using the world’s first leather alternative made from urban plant waste collected from London parks.
BEEN London bags are hand-made in East London using waste from materials including vegan leather made from surplus apples, felt padding made from recycled IKEA uniforms, linings made from unused clothing and much more. Using recycled materials means BEEN London bags on average have a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than a high street equivalent made from virgin materials. This new prototype made from Treekind™ will be the brand’s most exciting and sustainable bag to date.
‘This bag could really change the future of fashion’. says BEEN London Founder Genia Mineeva. ‘The main issue with leather alternatives at the moment is that they’re near impossible to recycle. There’s often a small print mentioning PU or polyester (essentially plastic) backing somewhere, even in the most innovative, vegan, low carbon materials. The beauty of the bag we have created with Treekind™ is that it will be fully circular and compostable. We’re extremely proud to be the first bag brand to trial Treekind™ and can’t wait to roll this out to our customers in the future’.
Mira Nameth, the Founder and CEO of Biophilica: ‘Treekind™ has been created with local production and manufacturing in mind, so working with a fellow London-based innovator is very exciting. We believe that bringing together strong design, heritage craft and new plant-based technology is exactly what the future of British fashion should be.’
The raw material is collected and made into Treekind™ in West London. Like all BEEN London bags, the first prototype was hand-made in East London in one of the last remaining artisanal workshops in the area. The Treekind™ prototype has been made in the same design as the brand’s best-selling Cecilia bag, a petite, structured bag with an adjustable strap which allows it to be worn as an everyday crossbody, or removed to be worn as an evening clutch bag. The crossbody bag will be fully biodegradable and compostable (yes, you will really be able to place it in your compost bin at home once the hardware is removed), but don’t worry, it won’t dissolve whilst in use! BEEN London and Biophilica are delighted to have been awarded a grant from ReLondon to help pilot the circular economy initiative. Working with ReLondon and the Mayor of London’s Green New Deal Fund, they are one of only 33 businesses to have been awarded funding to support and improve London’s waste and resource management whilst transforming the city into a leading low carbon circular economy.
About BEEN London
BEEN London is an award-winning brand making accessories entirely from recycled materials, handmade in East London since 2018. Prioritising social impact and sustainability, the team behind the brand have since been combining innovation with local skills and heritage to create thoughtful products designed with functionality and durability in mind. Every piece is made entirely by hand in one of the last remaining East London leather workshops and on average has a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than a high street equivalent made from virgin materials. Founded by an ex-BBC journalist Genia Mineeva, BEEN London is on a mission to change the perception of discarded materials. ‘Waste’ is only waste if no one uses it and through imagination and innovation, BEEN London gives used materials a second life. So far in 2021, BEEN London are proud members of the British Fashion Council to help pioneer change across the industry and collaborated with Amelia Windsor on an exclusive bag design. Loved by the likes of The Times, Harper’s Bazaar and The Telegraph, BEEN London was most recently listed as one of The Guardian’s favourite brands ‘at the vanguard of ethical innovation’ and were named as ‘the ones to watch’ by Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards.
Sourced from green waste, Treekind™ by Biophilica is plastic-free – free of PU, PVC and any other petrochemicals. This makes it recyclable as new material and home compostable. It is also non-toxic and estimated carbon negative. Treekind™ by Biophilica is patent-pending. Leather is one of the most environmentally harmful textiles with its carbon footprint, water usage and waste. Treekind™ offers a sustainable, circular alternative to leather and its synthetic competitors to support the transition to manufacturing and consumption that is local, carbon zero, and sustainable. Treekind™ can be made in a range of colors and textures. Our team of materials scientists are currently optimizing the formulation of Treekind™ with the support of BLC Leather/Eurofins to meet all the requirements of goods typically made from leather including bags, wallets, watch straps, and belts. We will begin to pilot the production of the first 500 m2 in Q3 of 2021, to test our circular supply chain together with Den Ouden Groep, REMO, and Blue City. To date, Biophilica has received funding from Innovate UK, the Government of the Netherlands (RVO), Queen Mary’s Social Venture Fund, Central Research Laboratory, our Crowdfunding backers, and private sources. We are members of the Sustainable Accelerator and Fashion for Good. Additional recognition for Biophilica includes featuring in The Guardian’s recent article on leather alternatives and in Trend Bible. Treekind™ was a finalist in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award and in Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2021 for Sustainable Textile Innovation. Biophilica is also shortlisted for the Manufacturing Futures 2021: Fashion District Innovation Challenge Prize and the Global Good Awards 2021 for Best Startup Enterprise of the Year.