How much of the product is recycled content?
A significant amount of leather is discarded and often destined for landfill. Gen Phoenix actively reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill by recycling thousands of tons of leather hides. Gen Phoenix materials contain up to 77% recycled content. We ensure that all the raw materials we source meets stringent quality requirements. All Gen Phoenix suppliers are required to ensure material does not originate from the Amazonian Biome or other areas of high environmental concern. We are developing solutions to expand the range of recyclable material to include post-consumer waste.
Do you have an LCA?
We have a peer reviewed LCA from a number of years ago, which demonstrated our product had a significantly lower impact compared to traditional bovine leather in all 18 impact categories. We are in the process of reviewing this with the view to refresh our LCA for our latest products.
How much plastic is there in your product?
Our products contain up to 77% recycled content. Some of that content is also recycled and virgin plastic. Our focus is to reduce and eliminate virgin materials from our products and we have a strong roadmap to further reduce the use of both virgin and recycled plastics. In addition, we are commercialising a bio-based coating system and bio-based substitutions for any synthetic materials used in our process.
Can you use end of life Gen Phoenix materials in your process?
We have primarily focused on repurposing the abundance of leather waste which is otherwise sent to landfill. In anticipation of increasing demand from brands and consumers for circular materials, we have made good progress on adapting our technology platform to accommodate a variety of end-of-life materials, including our own material.
What is the history of Gen Phoenix and what services does the company provide?
Gen Phoenix is the original manufacturer of sustainable, recycled leather, transforming waste leather into high-performance, luxury materials for a radically lower environmental impact. Gen Phoenix doesn’t just supply a product to a customer, it collaborates with them to find new ways of doing things, specific to the needs of each company. Gen Phoenix believes that genuinely impactful solutions can only be achieved through collaboration, and we challenge our customers to rethink what their needs really are and remove any preconceptions over how this can be achieved.
Why is sustainability a key focus for Gen Phoenix?
Sustainability has always been a core priority for Gen Phoenix, and we place sustainability at the heart of everything we do. This includes both the manufacturing process which focuses on maximum circularity, and the product itself which uses as its primary raw material the waste leather which would otherwise have gone into landfill. Gen Phoenix sees itself as a sustainable fibre science company, and as such we continue to identify new ways to introduce recycled content into our products, which will incorporate additional waste products as raw material – further increasing the sustainability of our products, and providing a wider range of choices (including plant-based) that could transform the industries we serve.
How is the materials industry changing and what does the future hold in terms of innovation?
Innovation is in Gen Phoenix’s DNA. The late founder Chris Bevan’s approach, which remains embedded within company culture, is to continually seek genuinely new ways of doing things which have the power to change industries.
Gen Phoenix understands that companies are always looking for the next major innovation, to improve their processes and sustainability further, but also need to adopt the best possible solution now. Gen Phoenix produces industry-leading solutions for sustainable, high-performing recycled leather, while investing significantly in R&D and embedding a culture of innovation. Companies that partner with Gen Phoenix are on the same journey of continual improvement through collaboration.
How big are Gen Phoenix's ambitions; where do you see the company going in terms of expansion?
Like any business Gen Phoenix has ambitions, one of which is to expand and take our customers on that journey with us. Right now, Gen Phoenix is focused on creating the best sustainable, recycled leather from leather waste that would otherwise go to landfill and producing high quality materials for industries including automotive, aviation and fashion. There are a number of routes that our focus on R&D could take us – we’ll explore a number of them and then commit to where we see a viable opportunity to create something different. This could, for example, mean building capability to recycle post-consumer waste such as belts, bags, clothing, etc, or it could be creating a sustainable plant-based alternative. There is a huge amount of opportunity and Gen Phoenix is excited to be on a journey of continual discovery.
What is your current set up in the UK and how much capacity does this allow at your manufacturing plant?
Gen Phoenix is currently located in Peterborough with two factories within the area. Our original site has been converted into an R&D facility, whilst our new larger site, completed in 2019, is our main manufacturing plant, able to produce 6 million M2 of sustainable leather per year.
What is ELeather and how is it different to Leather?
ELeather is our original sustainable, recycled leather used widely across the mas-transport industry for the past 15 years. The product achieves the quality, luxurious appearance of leather, but is far more sustainable, and performs better through design and engineering. Leather is a natural product with particular aesthetic and physical properties, but this doesn’t mean it’s optimal in meeting requirements over performance and sustainability. Gen Phoenix’s sustainable, recycled leather enables customers to achieve the best of both worlds: a high-quality aesthetic that consumers want, with a durability and sustainability that far exceeds alternatives including real leather. Gen Phoenix does this by transforming unused leather into beautiful, new materials. Innovative technology allows waste to be turned into a source of high-performance fibre while saving precious natural resources such as water, and lowering carbon emissions.
What do your customers look for across the industry?
Aviation: Gen Phoenix works with some of the world’s biggest airlines, including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines (US), Aeromexico and Latam. Gen Phoenix knows that the aviation sector is in a period of major transition, and as such we have designed materials to meet demands now, with a view to the future. With ambitious carbon targets to satisfy government legislation and passenger’s demand for responsible travel, the aviation market needs to act now with greener cabin solutions that are readily available and can make an immediate impact at scale. Through Gen Phoenix’s engineered material products, significant savings come from up to 90% cutting yields and lower overall aircraft weight which reduces fuel burn costs.
Automotive: For decades, leather has been a byword for premium and luxury car interiors. At the higher end of the market, customers expect it as standard. Gen Phoenix understands this, and we have innovated to develop materials that look just as good as leather, perform better, and offer motorists a more sustainable choice as they look to make greener lifestyle choices.
Ground transport: Gen Phoenix supplies major operators across Europe and beyond including RENFE, SNCF, DSB, and Amtrak (US). Gen Phoenix is changing the face of transport upholstery one bus or train at a time. Our materials are being used by some of the world’s largest operators who are recognising that quality and performance can also come with an enhanced environmental benefit over alternatives. Gen Phoenix is unique in ground transport upholstery in that our product is neither leather nor faux leather – materials which the industry traditionally has favoured. For customers used to the quality aesthetic and cleanliness that traditional leather offers, Gen Phoenix can match the visual appearance while offering far greater durability. Gen Phoenix seats have also been independently ingress/egress tested to the equivalent of 10 years in use with virtually no signs of wear, tear or sag.
Fashion specific: While fashion is seasonal, one permanent and increasing trend is the desire to wear and own products which don’t have a negative impact upon the planet. Gen Phoenix offers brands, and the consumers that wear or use them, the opportunity to benefit from beautiful-looking and durable products, which are significantly better for the planet than leather or other leather alternatives.
Fashion: We hear more often than not how consumers are looking for sustainable alternatives to fast fashion. What is Gen Phoenix's stance on this?
Gen Phoenix offers a significantly more sustainable alternative to leather for the fashion and lifestyle sector without losing any of the aesthetic appeal. Gen Phoenix materials are suitable for various applications – from consumer electronics, to leather goods, footwear and much more. Our lifestyle leather collections are developed based on extensive and regular research to reflect current consumer trends. Gen Phoenix’s aim is to help brands connect with their environmentally conscious consumers by offering them quality materials with high recycled content and high-quality finish. Gen Phoenix material is produced on a roll which makes it easier to work with and achieve higher yield (another way to generate less waste).
Does Gen Phoenix have any new materials customers can look forward to?
(Aviation specific) New to the aviation material range is Essence – an upholstery material built to offer inherent durability while maintaining a lightweight structure leading to long-term weight and carbon emission savings in service. Essence reduces the need for frequent seat cover changes typically required for dry cleaning, meaning minimal on-board maintenance for airlines. The product also has an anti-microbial finish, providing a hygienic solution in a world living with Covid-19.
(Consumer specific) Coach (owned by Tapestry Group) and Gen Phoenix partnered on the development of a premium recycled leather material for the lining of their entire range of leather goods being launched under their new Coachtopia sub-brand. In under a year, Gen Phoenix had successfully developed a new material that offered the highest level of recycled content to date (77%) in service of the partnership.
Gen Phoenix have a number of market relevant product developments in the pipeline as well as working on specific new technology developments to meet their brand partners performance, price and planet needs across different applications.
Gen Phoenix recently developed a range of new, luxurious finishes that can be used across multiple markets – providing super-soft, premium results while maintaining all the environmental and performance attributes of their recycled leather. Gaia, Saffiano and Twill are inspired by fashion and automotive trends, and offer the mass-transport markets diversity from the traditional leather grains often used in seating.
Why wouldn't people use alternatives like mushroom leather if they wanted a fully organic and sustainable leather product?
These vegan alternatives are still producing more “stuff” which adds to the environmental impact of manufacturing new material. We are taking “stuff” that no one wants, destined for landfill, and making use of it again. We believe that this circular approach is a real solution for today’s sustainability challenges that plague consumer industries like footwear, automotive and luxury leather goods. In the future, we too will be offering plant-based materials as outputs of our process. That is the beauty of our technology. We have been manufacturing recycled material for over a decade, and we know what it takes to produce quality, sustainable product in a scalable way.
Will Gen Phoenix ever produce vegan leather or other material types in future?
Gen Phoenix sees itself as a sustainable fibre science company, and as such we continue to identify new ways to introduce recycled content into our products. We are working now on solutions, which will incorporate additional waste streams as our feedstocks – further increasing the sustainability of our products, and providing a wider range of choices (including plant-based) that could transform the industries we serve.
We are continually focused on research and development (R&D) which can create game-changing products or make breakthroughs that open up new possibilities. We will continue to take this approach so that if it’s possible in future to create even more sustainable materials, we’ll find the means of doing it.