Most vegan leathers on the market are made entirely from synthetic materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and more recently polyurethane (PU), both of which are made entirely from fossil fuels. PVC is a troublesome material, both in its petrochemical origin and its production, as it releases dioxins (toxic chemical compounds) into the environment. PVC-based leather additionally incorporates phthalate plasticizers, which are endocrine (hormonal) disruptors - both dangerous to humans and ecosystems.
PANGAIA does not use any PVC-based materials.
Polyurethane is safer for humans than PVC, although it is still dependent on petrochemical raw materials. In order to make PU workable for a vegan leather it must be turned into a liquid using solvents.
Traditionally, PU solvents are high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful to both humans and the environment. However, recent advances in chemistry have developed a less toxic process, known as water-based polyurethane or polyurethane dispersion (PUD), which we use where necessary. This water-based process involves modifiers and other agents in addition to water, which means PUD is a less toxic and harmful process, although we are aware PUD still relies on petrochemical raw materials and does not biodegrade at the end of its useful life.
Our goal is to use petrochemical-free leather alternatives.