Wastea, a Turkish company is upcycling tea waste and turning it into vegan leather and other eco-friendly products. Up to 10% of all commercially harvested tea leaf eventually becomes waste, first from discarded leaves, stems, and buds, and then from advanced processing and deep processing, such as for tea concentrates, instant tea powder, nutraceuticals, and other extracts.

Wastea is a brand under the Istanbul-based Scays Group, which specialises in the development and production of eco-friendly materials. Most of the tea waste is either dumped in landfills or incinerated, but now this company is using it to produce several products, including vegan leather. Turkey is the world’s fifth largest producer of tea, so there will be plenty of tea waste to recycle. 

The company has also developed a new construction material using tea waste, called Wasment, which uses the portion of the tea waste that is not suitable for making vegan leather.  

Erdem Dogan, managing director of Scays Group, told STiR, “Our aim is to replace leather, polyurethane, and polyvinyl chloride materials with our Wastea product for a better future for the environment and the future generations…The first development happened almost five years ago, with the aim of creating a sustainable new generation of materials which can be adopted into all industries and replace old-fashioned materials which are polluting the environment and killing animals. It was very important for us to find a waste which has no future life cycle, and second, to find an industry and plants which are environmentally friendly. We found tea waste of the Camellia sinensis tea plant to be the most eco-friendly,” 

Wastea won a gold award for innovation from V-Label, the Swiss certification group that operates the world’s leading vegan and vegetarian trademark.

Similarly to this Turkish company, a company in India is producing a vegan eco-friendly alternative to synthetic leather by using mango fruits. India is the world’s greatest mango grower, producing 20 million tonnes per year. Currently, up to 40% of the mangos are abandoned in the fields because they fail regulatory and market standards, so they can be used to produce fake leather.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.