So far, fish skin waste has not been utilized optimally and wasted while, in fact, fish skin waste has considerable potential to be developed in the leather industry. In the hands of three students of UGM, the waste was transformed into material with economic value.
The three creative students are Putu Ary Dharmayanti (Faculty of Agricultural Technology – 2005), Aris Rudianto (Faculty of Agricultural Technology, 2007), and Luqman Hakim (Biology, 2007). They succeeded in developing tannery business from fish skin waste. They process the waste from 23 fish fillets industrial centers in Benoa, Bali.
Putu Ary Dharmayanti said fish skins waste at the fish fillets industrial centers in Benoa, Bali, are very abundant, but still underutilized. One fillet industrial center in the region produced about 15-23 kg of fish skins waste every day. "During this time, fish skin waste of fish fillets industrial center in Benoa has not been used optimally, and wasted to be accumulated as junk. Whereas in fact, the waste generated is quite a lot and actually very potential to be utilized as raw material for leather," she explained on Thursday (11/8) at UGM Stana Parahita.
Putu Ary explains the fish skins can be used as an alternative raw material for variety of leather products that are currently more and more favored by the people. "Currently, only about 30% of the world’s needs of leather can be met. As for Indonesia itself, only 20% can be met. The utilization of fish skin is expected to become an alternative raw material to meet the shortage of raw materials for leather products," she explained. Putu Ary conveys the use of fish skin as raw materials is to reduce the wildlife hunting.
Their business with the label of Skinny Fish "Gold Leather Innovation" utilizes three types of fish skin, which are of the snapper, tuna and mahi-mahi. The selection of those fish is based on material availability and consumer demand. In addition, the characteristics of fish are also unique and interesting. "The snapper skin has a surface skin/nerf of the medium size round former scales that are very exotic, as well as two other types of fish skin. In addition, it also has great fiber, almost like the fiber of snake skin," said Aris Rusdianto.
Aris and his colleagues process the fish skin to produce fish skin with a strong fiber and high levels of enervation. The production is conducted by synthetic and vegetable tanning method. The process begins by firstly removing dirt and fish scales. Furthermore, the levels of protein and fat in the skin that has been cleaned has to be reduced so that the only remaining are fiber and water. After that process, it is added with synthetic and vegetable tanning materials. Afterward, the fish skin is dried up with the aim of eliminating the water content for later to be colored and finally, finishing.
"We have two types of coloring methods. First, it is through bleaching in which blackish color pigment near the scales is removed in order to obtain a consistent color. Second is the process of production without the removal of color pigments, and the blackish color near the scales is maintained resulting in exotic blackish spots around the scales," said Aris.
The fish skin leather products have been marketed online since December 2010. The mahi-mahi leather is marketed for 15 thousand each sheet and snapper 20 thousand. As for tuna leather, it is marketed for 25 thousand per 15 cm x 30 cm size. Luqman Hakim added that temporarily they only sell the product by order due to limited production capacity. However, in the future they plan to raise production capacity to meet the various demands of goods, which are mostly come from industry in Japan and Russia.
Up to this time, the production is done manually. The manual method is only able to produce 100-125 pieces in a single production time. "Currently, we only serve by order because the production is still done manually. Given the large unmet demand of orders, in the future we will increase production capacity, i.e., by using machinery in the production process. By using machine, we would be able to produce far more than the manual method, i.e. 400 pieces in a single production," he said.
The product developed by them is environmentally friendly because it uses synthetic and vegetable materials technology. In addition, in the coloring process natural dyes are used. The leather tanning business has brought them to win the gold medal in PIMNAS XXIV at Hasanuddin University, Makassar, last July.