What is BioThane? Is it ecofriendly?

  • Date: May 14, 2022

BioThane is a rubber-like leather alternative. Due to being waterproof and durable it is commonly found as an animal leather alternative in dog leads and horse tack. However, its eco friendly credentials have to be questioned due to its heavy use of plastics. Here we take a deeper look into some of the most frequently asked questions about BioThane.  

So, what is BioThane?

BioThane is not one single product – it is a group of coated webbing products produced by the BioThane brand. These are made from a polyester webbing which has been coated with a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It has a rubber-like feel and comes in an endless variety of colors. Beta BioThane, sometimes simply referred to as Beta, this is more recent innovation from the BioThane brand. It has a different type of vinyl coating.

What is BioThane used for?

Check out @moonpupsco for beautiful, vibrant dog accessories

BioThane is suitable for many uses You are most likely to know the BioThane material for its use in animal care. It makes great accessories for domestic animals. BioThane dog leads and collars are really popular, especially for particularly active dogs who love to get muddy and play in water! It is durable and easy to clean making it an ideal material for a messy pup. BioThane is also used widely in the equine world. BioThane horse tack includes bridles, halters and reins.

Beyond animals, it is used in a variety of industries. From protective shoulder pads in the sports industry to wheelchair straps in healthcare, BioThane has been utilized widely. Anywhere where there is a need for a durable, waterproof and easy-to-clean material, it could be an option.

Is BioThane toxic?

You’ll be relieved to know that BioThane is not toxic. If it is used for the intended purpose you will not have any urgent trips to the vet or hospital…

Is BioThane vegan?

Biothane is synthetic faux leather – it contains a high proportion of plastics. at the time of writing, it was not vegan certified. You can use your BioThane dog lead with a clear-ish (read on…) conscience!

Is BioThane eco-friendly?

BioThane is a mixed bag when it comes to its green credentials. Even plastic-based faux leathers like BioThane – have a lower carbon footprint than animal leather. It produces much less carbon dioxide is production than the rearing of cattle to produce animal leather. This can only be a good thing since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Massive amounts of water is also needed to produce an animal leather product – from water needed to maintain their health to that needed in the leather production processes. The synthetic leather water footprint is tiny in comparison.   

BioThane is extremely durable, so can be used for a long time. However, when it is finally worn out and can not be used again it is difficult to dispose of in an ecofriendly way. BioThane is not biodegradable – instead it will break down into smaller and smaller pieces over a very long time. This results in microplastics that, amongst other things, get ingested by a variety of aquatic species in the oceans and waterways. This can have wide ranging consequences from internal organ damage to reproduction issues.

PVC, used as a BioThane coating, is the ‘single most environmentally damaging of all plastics’ according to Greenpeace.  The industrial plants where it is produced release an array of toxins into the environments – this includes the highly toxic compound dioxin. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) regard it as “one of the most toxic chemicals ever produced”.  These dioxins can then go on to cause hormonal imbalances in wildlife that can lead to infertility and birth defects in their offspring.  

Polyester used in the webbing also comes with its negative environmental impacts. Although using less water than in the production of natural materials, it uses a large amount of energy to produce – and emits greenhouse gases in the process. Like PVC it does not biodegrade, leading to similar microplastics issues for years down the line.

BioThane vs leather

@equihandicraft have a great selection of BioThane horse accessories – take a look.

It largely comes down to personal preference when it comes to comparing BioThane and leather. Like many products, both have their pros and cons. Many dog-walkers consider BioThane to more comfortable to handle, whereas others do not like the rubber-like texture. Whilst some are drawn to the bright colors available in BioThane, some prefer the natural look and smell of animal leather.

Many dog owners, and equine enthusiasts, choose the benefits of BioThane in the rainy months or on particularly muddy adventures. BioThane It is a lot easier to clean than animal leather and copes better in the rain or when submerged in water.

In terms of durability, BioThane will last a long time – but so will leather if looked after well.  It is not uncommon for leather items to last decades. In some cases, it has been noted that BioThane is actually too durable. In some horse riding scenarios, it may be beneficial for the item to break for safety purposes – and BioThane is not for breaking!

Ultimately, neither BioThane nor leather are better! They both have their pros and cons. It very much depends on what you want to use the item for and what material you find most aesthetically pleasing.