Fermentation for Leather

In the past, leather was tanned by soaking it in a mixture of urine, lime and dog excrement to soften and preserve the skin. In modern times, 80% of the leather is produced by treating them with chromium, a heavy metal that can cause many diseases and is linked to water, soil and air pollution. The use of these corrosive substances has resulted in significant greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Leather is often considered a byproduct or waste generated from the manufacturing industry, and vegan plant-based alternatives to leather are made from polyurethane. Considering a set of downsides of producing traditional leather, cellular agriculture for leather production has become a promising strategy. Advanced fermentation technology is used to reduce some of the dangers and toxins in the leather tanning process.

Solid State Fermentation Process.Fig 1. Solid State Fermentation Process. (Haile, G.; Babiye, B. 2018)

Advantages of Bio-fabricated Leather

  • The supply chain can be rebuilt by creating the material in the laboratory
  • Reduce environmental footprint
  • Fully biodegradable
  • Produced in the most environmentally-friendly way possible
  • Cut down the use of limited resources such as water and energy

Fermentation Techniques in the Leather Production

  • Bio-fabricated leather production via yeast fermentation

Traditionally, the leather manufacturing process is equivalent to removing almost everything but collagen from the skin (fat, hair, etc.). In general, petrochemicals are often used to make pleather or vegan leather. Nowadays, a yeast strain has been successfully cultured for the fermentation of collagen, the protein in skin that gives leather its strength and elasticity. Once purified, pressed into sheets and tanned, their vat-grown collagen becomes leather directly.

  • Bio-fabricated leather made from fermentation-derived collagen

We provide cellular agriculture companies and established industries with the advanced non-animal proteins needed for next generation of consumer products. By engineering the production cells, the complex protein can be produced for the application of materials that are functional, safe, cruelty-free and economically-viable. Currently, the most abundant protein found in mammals has been used to create an advanced and complex form of collagen, which is fermented to generate bioleather with its independent integrity.

Eco-leather made with the fermentation of bacteria.Fig 2. Eco-leather made with the fermentation of bacteria. (Cecchini, C.; et al. 2017)

  • Production of leather by fermentation via using lactic acid

A new bio-based lactic acid has been discovered to enable pH regulation and metal sequestration across a wide range of chemical applications. This lactic acid can be used extensively for leather production. According to the research, it facilitates the deliming process - saving costs while improving efficiency and safety. During the fermentation process, this bio-based lactic acid gradually lowers the pH of the solution to enhance the intact hide tissue and provide excellent leather properties, resulting in a softer but stronger leather with a finer grain structure.

  • Leather Generated by symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast

It has showed that the symbiotic culture system of bacteria and yeast can be harvested, dried, molded and used to make 100% biodegradable vegan leather. Thanks to the efficiency and simplicity of the fermentation process, this kind of leather can be grown and manufactured more easily than conventional leather, since no animal products are required. During the growing process, the material can be controlled to be thinner, thicker or more flexible as needed.

Our Services for Fermentation Production of Bio-Leather

BOC Sciences provides fermentation CDMO service for natural leather. We produce proteins, carbohydrates, and other cell culture products through fermentation that can be used in next-generation leather. We have the ability to provide large scale fermentation capacity in excess of 2,000,000 liters, providing a seamless manufacturing process for our customers.

Workflow of Our Service

Workflow of Our Service


  1. Haile, G.; Babiye, B. Extraction of Protease Under Solid State Fermentation using Bacterial Isolates from Traditional Leather Processing Waste Water Found Around Wukro Maray. Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia. 2018(3): 15.
  2. Cecchini, C.; et al. Bioplastics made from upcycled food waste. Prospects for their use in the field of design. The Design Journal. 2017. 20: S1596-S1610.

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