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Apple announced in September that it would no longer use leather as part of its goal to make all of its products carbon-neutral by 2030. The company said that iPhone accessories and Apple Watch bands will instead be made using a twill fabric with a “suede-like feel” called FineWoven, which is produced mostly from recycled material.
“As the largest company in the world, Apple Inc. is meeting consumers’ demands and setting a tremendous example for other top companies by ditching leather,” PETA said in a statement.
The global leather market was valued at $440 billion last year and is projected to grow to $740 billion by 2032, according to Fortune Business Insights. While fashion brands—especially shoemakers—such as Hermès, Prada, Nike, and Adidas are the largest buyers of leather, businesses in the automotive and tech industries also use it in their products.
While Apple’s move was primarily driven by its environmental goals—leather production has been linked with the Amazon’s deforestation and pollution—it’s also a win for animal-lovers. One analysis by VegNews estimates that the company has used the hides of about 2,500 cows for every 1 million iPhone cases it sold.
Apple isn’t alone in its decision to ditch leather. Fashion companies are increasingly turning to faux versions, branded as “vegan leather,” an industry valued at $62 million in 2022 and set to grow almost 10% a year through 2030. “Mushroom leather,” which is both recyclable and biodegradable, is favored by fashion designer Stella McCartney and others.