Fruitleather Rotterdam was conceived by six undergraduate design students at Willem de Kooning Academy tasked with the assignment to set up a flash retail event. The students were inspired by a market held each Tuesday and Saturday near the university that's completely littered with food waste by market close, and decided to use their retail assignment as an opportunity to work on the social issue of food waste.

By conducting a lot of research, the team was able to estimate that over 7,700 pounds of food were being wasted in a single day at the outdoor markets in and around Rotterdam, which would cost market vendors approximately 12 cents per pound to dispose of.

The designers looked to gastronomy to find a way to repurpose the food waste. Chefs mash, cook, and dry fruits to make them more of a candy, called fruitleather, and this served as inspiration for the eco-friendly process the designers developed to transform fruit and vegetable waste into a leather-like material.

By producing this on large scale with the unsellable fruits from the market, a new kind of material is created. This material can be used in many different ways, creating many different products. We ourselves have created a design bag made completely out of the fruitleather material. The bag shows the quality and possibilities that fruitleather has to offer as a material.

The designers started to collect leftover foods like mangoes, apples, and oranges from vendors, and then put their process into motion. Mashable interviewed the team, who is keeping their eco-friendly manufacturing process under wraps:

"He offered the basics: After collecting food waste from the market stands, the team makes sure all seeds are taken out of the fruit before they cut it up and mash it. Then they remove all bacteria from the fruit by boiling it, to ensure that it won't rot. The next step is spreading the paste onto a 'specific surface,' which de Boon said is 'crucial in the drying process.' Once it's dried, the raw Fruitleather material is produced."

The handbag is a visual the team produced to demonstrate that products can be made from the durable material, but the main event is the material itself, which could be used as furniture coverings or clothing if the team continues to fine-tune the manufacturing process and improve the quality of the material. Much like leather, the team can create a broad palette of colors based on what fruits they use. 

Read more about the project on Mashable, and watch an interview with the innovative designers below.