Citing recent research from the FILK Freiberg Institute published in the Coatings journal (titled Comparison of the Technical Performance of Leather, Artificial Leather, and Trendy Alternatives), Bridge of Weir noted that many leather alternatives contain plastics, do not biodegrade safely or efficiently and cannot be fully recycled.

However, the company believes that car makers and consumers are being greenwashed by claims that these materials outperform leather when it comes to welfare and sustainability.

Bridge of Weir called for greater transparency around these materials, asking automotive material manufacturers to fully reveal their supply chain and true environmental impact of products, enabling the verification of their green claims.

Dr Warren Bowden, Head of Sustainability & Innovation at Bridge of Weir, said: “Car makers and consumers are being led to believe that many non-animal materials, which can be made from various plant-based products or recycled plastic bottles, perform better and are more sustainable than real leather, but this isn’t the case and there is real concern they are being greenwashed.

“Unlike leather, synthetic materials created using fossil fuels do not biodegrade. They litter oceans and soils with debris and microplastics and cause tremendous damage to biodiversity. The materials industry must be more transparent on its sustainability claims enabling both car companies and consumers to make fully informed decisions.”