LEATHER FROM SEAFOOD WASTE
In 2015, Marielle Philip created Femer peau marine, a French company which makes leather from seafood waste. Located in the bay of Arcachon, the company upcycles local fish skins into a solid, appealing and odorless textile. It is then used to conceive luxury products.
An artisanal and sustainable production
Each step of the production process is artisanal. After collecting local fish skins from Arcachon-based merchants, Marielle proceeds to clean them in order to remove their scales or eventual flesh residues. Leather production always requires a step called « tanning » in order to make the skin rot-resistant. Tanning also gives leather its usual properties such as solidity or water resistance. Femer peau marine is a 100% vegetal process.
A Scandinavian method
Fish skins are soaked in a mix of local plants for one or two weeks. The tannin used is made from crushed mimosa bark, native from the Pilat Dune also located in the Arcachon region. Fish skins are then dried during several days in order to get the appearance of leather. Once it is done, they are dyed by hand. Femer’s process is way different from traditional tannin. Based on chromium, their impact on the planet – as well as on the workers manipulating it – is terrible.
A step into the fight against waste
Beyond a simple pescatarian alternative to cow or exotic leather, the brand also has a real ethical and sustainable meaning. They always use local and high-quality skins. In order to remain in an upcycling approach, the company only makes leather from fish species which require skin removal for consumption. Since 2015, Femer has turned 15 species into leather. They merchandize for instance salmon or trout leather. The French agency for the environment and energy mastering (ADEME) defines upcycling as « reusing, recycling or any other action aiming to get reusable materials or energy from waste ». Thus, waste is removed from the collecting and treatment circuit as well as elimination is forgotten.
By exclusively providing themselves in the food-processing industry located in Arcachon, the company participates in circular economy and reduces waste. Less Saves The Planet puts forward this type of initiatives guaranteeing a frugal management of resources. By producing economic wealth thanks to waste, Femer saves greenhouse gas emissions coming from material production. The company also creates jobs in their region, which was its founders’ goal.
On their e-shop, they propose various finished products using fish leather such as leatherwork or jewelry. Multiple leathers are also sold per unit. The company has even partnered with French leather goods company like Daguet or La Pylataise, shoe manufacturer. Both use Femer fish skins.