Plants have been used as a source for coloring fabrics from their very beginning. Now, researchers at Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre are developing leaf-processing technologies that could be used by the cosmetics, textile, feed and food industries. VTT scientists are looking at autumn leaves for their pigments, carbohydrates, proteins and compounds that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
In a process developed by VTT, leaves gathered in gardens and parks are dried and ground, and compounds are extracted; pigments from the leaves can be used to color textiles. As the chemical composition of leaves varies considerably among different tree species, added value can be obtained by processing the autumn leaves of certain tree types only, thereby producing well-defined compounds suitable for new products.