In Tel Aviv, Elinor and Alon Nathaniel give a second life to single-use packaging. Whether it's bubble-wrap faux-leather or aluminum-tray-based imitation leather, the upcycled materials open up a number of new solutions in the packaging realm.
Be they for high-end sneakers (from nat-2), or vegan acessories, jackets and upholstery fabrics, Israeli company Remeant’s textiles stand out first and foremost for their trompe-l'œil look that is both playful and futuristic. The other point of difference? The ability to divert single-use packaging ranging from bubble wrap to aluminum food trays from our domestic waste streams.
The patented process for transforming plastics into textiles and other related materials was developed by designer Elinor Nathaniel—a graduate of Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art—who runs the start-up with her husband, Alon. Today, Remeant only works with flexible polyethylene (mainly LDPE bags and packaging films), which it collects from private individuals and professionals. “For the time being, we operate our own collection system, but we hope that, in time, factories will send us their plastic packaging directly," comments Elinor Nathaniel.
Recycled aluminum was transformed into a canvas-like material for nat-2 sneakers ©nat-2
Looks like leather, but with perks
The materials collected have a leather-like effect once processed. "When consumers look at Remeant, their first guess is that it is made from organic/natural materials, which is a significant accomplishment considering that its source material is discarded plastic," notes Nathaniel.
Unlike leather, Remeant is waterproof and lighter weight: 160 to 250g/m2 and between 0.5 and 1mm thick. It is also wrinkle-free, resistant to abrasion and stains and yet washable, although this type of vegan ‘leathers’ don't require conventional washing machine detergents. "This avoids the release of microplastics often inherent in textiles made from recycled plastics," explains the supplier.
A versatile material, Remeant can undergo a variety of decoration options ©Remeant
A material with bespoke potential
The mechanical processing technology combined with toxic-free dyeing methods, which is not systematic, is said to have no environmental impact. "We sometimes choose to keep the original color when the shades are interesting. This was the case with the recycled aluminum canvas used by Sebastian Thies at nat-2 for his Sleek Alchemist sneakers. When the source material is colored, it is done so by hand, giving each piece its own unique character." Custom coloring and patterns are also possible, whether for finished products (bags, garments and accessories) or ready-to-sew material that comes in rolls of varying widths.
Remeant can be processed as either a textile or a plastic. "Thanks to its high resistance to heat, the material can be branded, embossed or printed," Elinor explains. Tactile bespoke renderings are also an option for soft textured touches; the bubble effect, she adds, recalls crocodile leather.
Currently available in four options – Re-Plain, Re-Marble (with veined effects), Re-Bubbles (bubble-wrap-based) and Metalic Silver (made from upcycled aluminum) – Remeant’s vegan leathers can be manufactured on an industrial scale. "We are able to produce hundreds if not thousands of meters per month," affirms Nathaniel.
Remeant's materials are able to be manufactured on an industrial scale ©Remeant