Along with his company Eco-leather Corp, green chemist and professor at the University of Delaware Richard Wool has developed a process to create leather using chicken feathers as a non-toxic alternative to the standard leather production process, via fastcoexist:
…As for his process, Wool makes bio-composites using techniques developed by aerospace engineers to process the scraped, downy fibers from chicken feathers into the hardy soles of shoes. With heat and pressure, the feathers are combined with natural fibers and plant oil resins, which can be made soft or rigid. Wool’s lab has also developed a bio-based foam that can replace polyurethane, a widely used petroleum-based material that releases airborne pollutants.
The goal of his work, Wool explains, is to provide alternatives to the toxic leather production process. The Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, regards pollution from leather tanneries in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh, as one of the top toxic threats in the world. Various chemicals used in leather tanning can cause cancer in humans, as well as skin and respiratory diseases. They include toxic heavy metals like chromium as well as hormone-disrupting PFCs….