Facts about leather

Content posted by: COTANCE.

Leather is a material almost as old as mankind. A wearable natural second skin, it has provided protection, warmth and elegance to mankind for thousands of years. Is this material still up-to-date?

The first humans needed to hunt for meat (protein, iron). Even if sustainability was unknown to them, they wasted nothing of their prey as animals could provide much more than food. Horns, claws and hooves were used as amulets, needles or weapons. Later, they learned how to use the skin and hair. They discovered that skins washed in a pond with old wood did not rot on their shoulders, as others did. They learned how to treat them and turn them into leather. In time, they became more proficient in drying, salting and tanning, making their new second skin soft, durable and strong against the wind and bad weather.

Our leather comes from the animals we hunt (such as deerskin, wild boars, etc) and from animals we rear for the production of food (cattle, sheep, goat, rabbits and certain fish). Their hide or skin is a residue that tanners recover and recycle.

The tanning process has evolved over the centuries and become environmentally conscious, as well as safer for tannery workers (look at the video below). The places in the world where the processing and working conditions are unacceptable are fewer and fewer. The International Council of Tanners (ICT) and all its members reject and condemn these practices that do not in any way accurately represent  the  modern leather industry and its products.

Something has not changed though: we humans still try to make the most of slaughtered animals and avoid wasting any of their by-products, especially their skins. Today leather is still a very appealing material. Genuine leather transports moisture and regulates body temperature, making it comfortable to wear.

When a material has such great properties, it’s bound to be imitated. So, beware of fakes that free-ride the good name and reputation of leather. Such substitutes are not leather and it is illegal to call them leather in EU Member States and other countries. Their characteristics do not come close to the performances of leather in terms of breathability, durability, sustainability and beauty.

When you buy leather, we want you to buy leather, real leather, nothing else.

You can read the original article HERE.

Odour and emission reduction in leather tanneries

Content posted by: One4Leather.

One 4 Leather recently published an article entitled “Odour and emission reduction in leather tanneries”.

There is a lot to be said for the reduction of chemicals and hazardous substances in production and products. After all, health and safety matters to us, animals, and our planet. However, the natural alternatives we used in the past are not always something we would like to return to, particularly when it comes to leather tanning.

Leather tanneries were located on the outskirts of towns, preferably on the far end so the wind would not carry the smell. Animal hides were originally processed using urine and dog faeces. The urine would help clean the leather, whereas the faeces contain enzymes that helped prepare the collagen in the hide. As this was often done in the open air, the smell of urine, faeces and decaying wastes were carried by the wind. Not particularly enjoyable, but a regular part of city life in the olden days. Up until the Victorian age, it was perfectly normal for the inhabitants of cities to collect dog faeces and urine for the exact purpose of leather making, therefore, the streets were relatively clean.

Modern processing has removed the need for these odorous ingredients. Even vegetable tanning, a method that also used the old technologies, has modernised. However, modern use of chemicals and other agents bring with them a new challenge: to manage the processes and chemistry to minimise any odour.

Modern tanning methods may have gaseous emissions. More often than not, the chemistry of tanning is carefully controlled to prevent any emissions, but where they do arise, the gaseous emissions are controlled using modern technology, such as filtration systems, which capture any emissions and prevent them from going anywhere.

The European Leather Industry reports significant reductions in VOCs in leather production. Greener chemistry and effective (waste)water management have contributed to a reduction of pollutants in the exhausts from tanneries. Tanners have also invested in circular processes where process heat is reused for thermal processes (or green energy, lowering CO2 and NO2 Production.

You can read the original article HERE.