The AquaNederland trade fair to be held in a few days will serve as the framework for the signing of a collaboration agreement between the companies Searious BV and Cirtec, which will enable the sustainable manufacture of exotic leather with the structure of a water snake. The companies based in Beetgumermolen and Purmerend, respectively, will contribute their experience and know-how so that the fish leather will be produced without environmentally harmful materials.

To make this possible, Searious BV will contribute its technology developed to produce leather without chrome, brine and antifungal materials. Cirtec, meanwhile, supplies a basic component in water treatment so that the unique production process becomes a closed system.

This was recently announced by both Dutch companies, which will meet at AquaNederland, a trade fair in the field of waste water, drinking water, process water and urban water & sewage management.

Prototype installation in Leeuwarden

Thanks to funding from the EFRO fund’s VIA 2021 project development program, Searious will build a prototype facility at its Leeuwarden site this year, with all process steps integrated on a representative demonstration scale. The project started at the end of 2021 and will be completed by mid-2023. The realization of a full-scale installation starts upon completion of this project.

The relationship between Searious and CirTec relates exclusively to the water section, which is why the AquaNederland trade fair has been chosen for the official confirmation of the collaboration, and more specifically in the innovation lane. CirTec is participating in the fair and can be found at booth number L.108.

Excellent raw materials

Although nowadays, when people think of fish, they do not automatically associate it with leather, leather made from it is not new. In fact, it has been around as long as humans have been eating fish, and the skin of salmon, cod or haddock, for example, are excellent raw materials for the sustainable production of exotic leather.

At present, fish leather is increasingly being produced because the main input is a recycled material from a waste product of fish processing.

However, if harmful substances are used in leather tanning, such as chromium, brine and fungicides, an important part of the alleged sustainability is lost.

Awareness of the importance of sustainability has prompted Folkert Fennema, a Searious manager, to develop a waste-free tanning process since 2016, at which point he began collaborating with various parties.

Sum of technically and economically viable technologies

The ultimate challenge in sustainable fish skin tanning is the treatment of a liquid stream that still contains too much water to be useful again. That’s where CirTec comes in. By evaporating the water using low-grade energy, a reusable concentrated stream rich in raw material with positive value is created.

The sum of technologies results in a sustainable tanning process, where a waste stream is converted into a high quality product, without creating a waste stream. A development that is fully in line with Europe’s circular economy objectives.

On the other hand, developing a beautiful, sustainable and innovative product is one thing, but if the costs prove too high, the project will be doomed to failure.

Tanning fish skins according to the Searious method is both technically and economically feasible and therefore, combined with circularity and environmental benefit, means a major step forward.

Innovative companies

It is worth noting that Searious is a company that specializes in washing, degreasing and decalcifying fish skins, after which a semi-finished product is created in the form of a pure functional collagen protein sheet, which can be used as a starting material for fish leather.

The Beetgumermolen-based company also plans to tan the skins of multiple other fish species in the future. To this end, it is seeking the cooperation of fish processors who, after filleting, preserve the skins of large fish (over 4 kilograms).

“For its part, CirTec says it strives to make an active contribution to the sustainability of society and to the reuse of waste materials in particular.

With proven and innovative technology, the Dutch company claims to offer the most suitable solution for a large number of environmental issues, focusing specifically on the development of alternative raw materials and the use of low-grade waste heat and energy for the evaporation of concentrated streams.


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