The tanning industry once again demands that the COP recognize the sustainable role of leather

Original content by: Lederpiel

Almost thirty associations related to the tanning sector around the world have signed a manifesto asking the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in 2023 to recognize the positive impact that natural materials such as leather have over people, the environment and the fight against climate change. The text expands on the one sent to the previous COP summit in Egypt in 2022 and highlights the ability of leather to optimize natural resources without causing negative impacts on the environment.

“Leather manufacturing can create employment opportunities and generate wealth and security in disadvantaged regions, both directly and in related industries,” states the Leather Manifesto, signed by leather associations. «Greater use of natural materials would create jobs, reduce waste and could be a direct driver of more sustainable agricultural practices,» the text states.

The new Leather Manifesto also points out that leather is an ideal option for a sustainable future, which encourages reuse and slow fashion. The leather industry hereby demands once again appropriate measures to correctly evaluate the life cycle of a product, taking into account all aspects of the production of any material and the promotion of products that are durable and can be used many times. Sometimes, repaired and renewed, as is the case with leather.

«Leather is the best material for beautiful and durable products that can be used by more than one owner, that can be repaired or renewed, prolonging their useful life, and that biodegrade at the end of their useful life,» says Gustavo González-Quijano, secretary general of the Confederation of National Associations of Tanners of the European Community (Cotance), one of the signatories of the manifesto. On the part of Spain, the Spanish Tanning Association (Acexpiel) and the Leather Cluster Barcelona appear as signatories of the document.

COP28 will be held this year from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

You can download the Leather Manifesto HERE

And so you can access de original article HERE

Leather: pioneering sustainability and circular fashion in the age of climate action

Original content by: Leather Naturally

As the world grapples with how we can reduce our impact on the environment and actively limit the impacts of climate change, we sit at a vital crossroads in our collective history. Leather is well positioned to be a meaningful part of the solution.

The European Commission has launched an anti-fast fashion campaign specifically designed to educate younger consumers about the negative impacts of fast fashion and to promote the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. The campaign aims to address issues of over-production associated with fast fashion and to prioritize sustainability and longevity.

The European Union is committed to serious action as part of its 2030 Vision for Textiles the cornerstone of which is sustainable fashion – designed to have a positive impact on people and the planet. Read here for more details.

With leather’s inherent properties of durability, reparability and longevity it represents the antithesis of fast fashion. The fact that it utilizes a by-product in order to create a versatile and premium material lends an additional benefit to its key position in the circular economy.

Increasing traceability expectations together with more and more stringent regulations have entirely shifted the modern consumer landscape. Consumers are far more educated than ever before on the provenance of the goods they purchase and the fact that the impacts of their purchasing decisions can be far-reaching.

Within this context, leather takes a by-product that would otherwise need to be disposed of (with its own environmental impacts) and using responsible, traceable and verifiable production processes, offers designers and consumers high quality products that can be repaired, re-cycled and that can last a lifetime.

How can we make an impact?

In addition to industry and government initiatives and regulations being pursued on a global scale, consumers also play an important role in effecting positive change by choosing leather. Please see below for some ideas as to how you can have an impact –

1. Quality over quantity

Invest in high-quality leather products that are durable and timeless, meaning that you can buy fewer items that last longer. Take care to purchase authentic leather pieces rather than synthetic or vegan leather alternatives which can contain high percentages of plastic, petroleum based products etc…which are damaging to the environment and do not have the same durability as leather.

2. Repair and restoration:

Leather products can often be repaired or upcycled and major brands are actively encouraging their consumers to repair their leather products. Many luxury leather brands such as Hermes, Chanel and Loewe offer to repair your leather products with the intent of extending their life and consequently reducing consumption and waste.  Some of these services include in-store artisans and even dedicated retail spaces which create an experience for the consumer and build brand value at the same time.

 3. Vintage & second hand:

Given the longevity of leather items, there is a strong vintage or second-hand market for leather products which – similarly to above – reduces global consumption and waste and can offer you a point of difference in terms of style and luxury at the same time.

4. Circular economy:

By choosing leather, you can actively support a circular economy in a number of ways. Firstly, by using a by-product of the meat industry, leather avoids hides and skins being sent to landfill and instead uses them to create beautiful and versatile products. In addition to this, you can take advantage of brands that may offer to buy back leather goods for a credit towards a new purchase eg… Mulberry’s circular Exchange program. Repairing your leather products and buying vintage leathergoods are also examples of how you can encourage a circular economy.

5. Timeless design:

Authentic leather products are often designed to be classic and timeless to encourage you to invest in pieces that you can wear for many years rather than to buy into fast fashion. You can also use apps such as Whering which can help you to digitize, curate and style outfits from your own wardrobe as well as fill wardrobe gaps sustainably!

6. Care:

Educate yourself about the quality and origins of what you are buying so that you can make informed choices about purchasing leather products. This will ensure you can keep them for many years and also take care of them well. For more tips on how to best care for your leather items please click here

Is leather “more than a by-product of the meat industry”?

Original content by: One4Leather

Although the internet is often seen as a handy way to spread misinformation and ‘fake news’, it can also be a great channel for two-way discussions. A quick search will give you countless pro- and anti-leather articles but scrolling down to the comments can help give a balanced viewpoint. A case in point was an article entitled Leather Is More Than “a By-Product of the Meat Industry which makes a case against leather usage based on the incorrect suggestion that meat producers are incentivised to cultivate cattle for their hides alone. This is untrue: hides are simply a by-product of the producers’ main business – selling meat. It also recycles myths in regard to leather’s sustainability and animal welfare issues as well as overlooking the fact that most alternatives to leather are considerably less environmentally friendly in the long run.

What is most refreshing, however, are the comments the article attracted which were largely in favour of leather and anxious to point out errors in the piece. One commenter, for example, points out that fake leather alternatives are generally plastic-based. Such plastics do not degrade and will go on polluting the environment for possibly thousands of years. In addition, they correctly state that plastic pollution is responsible for killing wildlife “in horrible ways”. While the meat industry is subject to strict animal welfare regulations, ironically, it is the fake leather industry that could be said to be responsible for actual animal cruelty in this regard.

On pollution in the leather industry, one commenter reminds the writer that vegetable-tanned leather is a traditional alternative to the use of chromium salts. It has to be said, too, that even when chromium is used in the industry it is done under strict environmental controls anyway. The correspondent says the idea of just putting animal hides in landfill would be an “environmental insult” and that he/she knows “of leather designers who are vegan and produce pieces made from recycled or environmentally sourced leathers”.

Another commenter, who describes themselves as a vegetarian, criticises the writer for a lack of diligence in their research and the use of arbitrary statistics. The article’s author claims that “leather accounts for approximately 10% of the animal’s total value, making it the most valuable part, pound for pound”. However, this is simply not the case. According to a report from the Leather and Hide Council of America: “Although by-products have traditionally accounted for 8-10% of total live fed steer value, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Marketing Information Center as of April 29, 2020, suggest by-products are averaging slightly below 7% of total carcass value, with hides hovering slightly above 1% of the entire value of the animal – perhaps the lowest percentage on record.”

There is space for pragmatism in the comments as well. Another respondent writes: “I don’t eat meat, and would love it if everyone else didn’t but, since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, it seems wasteful not to use the leather from those animals already previously slaughtered for meat. Besides, leather lasts quite a bit longer than the alternatives.”

This point is taken up by another person, who says in their experience “leather can last decades if cared for”. They go on to explain that even at the end of its usable life, “leather is biodegradable, so it is broken down into the earth with minimal chemical impact” – in stark contrast to plastic alternatives.

The claim and counter-claim narrative with this article makes for an interesting read. 

Read HERE the full article.

Splenda Leather bets on solar energy in its production plant

At Splenda Leather, faithful to our permanent commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility in the production process, we have made a significant commitment to self-consumption of energy at our production plant in Igualada (Barcelona).

Together with Grupo IONSE, we have installed a photovoltaic solar plant for self-consumption of 84.15 kWp, with a total of 153 solar modules of 550 Wp each. In this way, in addition to achieving significant savings in network consumption, we will avoid the emission of 28 tons of CO2 per year.

More information HERE


Photo & video: Grupo IONSE

Towards a Zero Impact of the tanning industry in Europe

Original content by: Lederpiel

The Confederation of National Associations of Tanners of the European Community (Cotance) and the European union IndustriALL organized in mid-April in Valencia the conference Towards a Zero Impact of the Tanning Industry in Europe. With this meeting, the aim was to share different business and labor strategies to make the tanning industry a more sustainable and respectful sector with the health and safety of its workers. Among other topics, those attending the conference spoke about how to reduce the carbon footprint, as well as actions aimed at minimizing the accident rate in workplaces. During the day, a couple of visits were also made to two Spanish tanneries.

The event was attended by, among other actors from the tanning industry, representatives of Cotance such as Manuel Ríos and Gustavo González-Quijano; Carmen Arias, general secretary of the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), and Anna García, director of the Spanish tanning employers’ association Acexpiel, as well as members of the IndustriALL and UGT-FICA unions and the European Safety Agency and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

You can read the original post HERE

Water use and leather production

Original content by: Real Leather

The tanning industry is often regarded as one with very high water consumption because historically, it has been. But great strides have been taken to change this, and still many companies are striving to do better.

The benefits of using less water for tanning can be more than just the obvious. They can also mean fewer chemicals are needed, which, of course, will reduce the amount of residual chemicals and pollutants that need to be treated.

The treatment of water is also key. If the water that is used is cleaned well enough, it can be returned to the environment meaning that any losses are marginal – the water can be reused by the tannery or to irrigate crops.

The Sustainable Leather Foundation

The Sustainable Leather Foundation (SLF) is one of the organisations working hard to assess water use by tanners in order to work to reduce it. There are 32 tanneries across the world who are SLF partners, and their water use falls well under the benchmark that was established to measure it.

There is a whole raft of measures tanners are taking to lower their water consumption.

  • Reducing the number of washing processes for each hide
  • Using fresh hides which do not need salt removal
  • Using more efficient machinery
  • Reusing and recycling water
  • Reducing chemical use or using biodegradable chemicals

Processes have been refined so much recently that the amount of water used has reduced by 35% in the last 25 years. And, with the reuse of water and the refining of techniques, that reduction is continuing.

You can read the original post HERE

Leather also has a role to play in the fight against deforestation

Original content by: Lederpiel

How many cows are killed to make a luxury bag? The correct answer is none.

According to a latest report from the NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), leather is entirely a by-product of the meat and dairy industries. Consequently, leather manufacturers are crucial players in stopping the deforestation of forests. This study supports and acknowledges the need to use leather as a by-product and also clearly demonstrates the importance of considering full life cycle analysis of leather.

«Leather is one of the oldest forms of recycling known. There are many benefits to using leather as a by-product of livestock production», WWF explains in its report. «Leather also has a role to play in fighting deforestation». However, the NGO points out that the leather industry can play a leading role in the fight against deforestation of our forests, mainly by pressuring ranchers to engage in sustainable grazing and livestock practices. The sale of raw hides can be an economic incentive for farmers. For this reason, according to the WWF, the tanners should use their influence over them to put pressure on them and thus prevent them from continuing to destroy natural ecosystems for the intensive farming of cattle herds.

«Leather is an important by-product of livestock production with a rich history. Its durability and position as a luxury item make it a highly desirable material for consumers. The increase in meat consumption globally means that hides will continue to exist on the market and, if not used for leather, they are often wasted, creating methane while sitting in a landfill», the WWF report concludes. «The leather industry has an opportunity to intensify and strengthen its efforts to eliminate deforestation and improve the beef supply chain through the additional income that hide sales bring to producers. Companies that purchase leather can use their influence to drive change and accelerate the protection of habitats at risk», warns the study. «Leather also has a role to play in the fight against deforestation».

You can download the study HERE

And you can read the original post HERE

Hide and skin production around the world

Contenido publicado por: World Leather

This article tackles the following misrepresentations:

MYTH: It is cruel to make leather from animal hides and skins.
FACT: The hides and skins are a by-product of the meat industry and only become available after slaughter.

MYTH: There are better uses for the hides and skins.
FACT: There are some other uses, but for thousands of years, people have found making leather to be the best way to make the most of the material available. In many parts of the world, the only other realistic option would be for the material to go to waste, which would give meat companies two big headaches, a financial one because of lost revenue from tanners and because of the cost of disposal, and an environmental one because of waste management practices in many parts of the world.

The volume of hides and skins coming as a by-product from the global meat industry is enormous. Figures suggest the meat industry generates around 275 million cattle hides a year, along with 540 million sheepskins and 425 million goatskins. The leather industry buys up much of this by-product, which otherwise would mostly go to waste, and transforms it into one of the most versatile and attractive materials on earth.

The weight of the hides and skins the meat industry casts off each year is likely to be around 8 million tonnes for cattle hides, 375,000 tonnes for sheepskins and 300,000 tonnes for goatskins. This means that the meat industry generates almost 8.75 million tonnes of waste per year in the form of animal hides and skins.

Disposing of this waste would cause severe problems for all cities and countries where animal slaughter and meat processing takes place, but specific to the developing world, it would exacerbate an already serious municipal solid waste situation. Municipal solid waste almost doubled in the first decade of this century to reach 1.3 billion tonnes in 2010. It is expected to reach 2.5 billion tonnes a year by 2025. At the moment, around 15 million of the poorest people in the world scrape a living by picking out from municipal solid waste things they will try to sell. The presence of large volumes of perishable waste material from the meat industry could have serious consequences for their health.

In parallel, the meat industry needs to consider how much money it would have to spend to manage its hides and skins in the same way as other waste, an increasingly costly business. The UK, for example, imposes a landfill tax that will reach £94.15 per tonne in April 2020, an increase of 11.5% on the 2016 figure. At these rates, putting its by-product into landfill in the UK would cost meat companies more than £800 million per year, without factoring in transportation or labour costs. This cost would, in all likelihood, be passed on to consumers, making meat more expensive and less accessible.

This article argues that the leather industry does the meat industry and society at large a great service by taking waste material and converting it into leather for shoes, accessories, clothing and upholstery. Tanners and brands selling finished products made from leather should remind their customers of this in the face of questions about the sustainability of the leather industry.

You can read the original post HERE.

An introduction to Leather and the Circular Economy

Contenido publicado por: World Leather

In December 2019, the European Commission published a 24-page document to explain a set of policy initiatives it is calling The European Green Deal, which has the aim of “resetting” the organisation’s commitment to tackling climate and environment-related challenges. The document describes such an undertaking as “this generation’s defining task”.

It wants the European Union (EU) to continue to be a prosperous body and for its economy to grow, but it wants this growth to become “decoupled” from the use of new resources. Renewable resources and the reuse of resources already in circulation will be fine, as long as they can be produced or recovered in sustainable ways.

In fact, this is precisely what the future looks like: using what we can grow and recover to make the products we use to live, keeping things for a long time, repairing them when we need to, passing them on for someone else to use when we no longer can or want to and, eventually, taking the product back and recovering the materials it’s made from and giving these a second, third, fourth, fiftieth life. Materials must go round in circles; as little as possible must go to waste.

These are global questions, of course, which the European Commission acknowledges. It says in the December document that the EU will “use its influence, expertise and financial resources” to convince companies and governments around the world to join it on a sustainable path. As “the world’s largest single market”, the EU believes it can set standards that will apply across global value chains. The Commission has said it will use its economic weight to shape international standards that are in line with its environmental and climate ambitions.

In the Green Deal, it presents an initial roadmap of the policies and measures that it wants business leaders, politicians and people in the EU and around the world to take to contribute to the objectives of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and of helping the United Nations meet its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It proposes to set up a “carbon border” so that products entering the EU from external countries may incur a carbon tax if “differences in levels of ambition” persist in their countries of origin. Therefore, cutting corners in seemingly low-cost outsource manufacturing locations will prove to be a false economy and companies that continue to pursue this practice may find that they cannot sell their products in the EU because the penalties in place will make these imports less affordable than alternative products made in the correct way. The correct way is circular.

The European Commission believes a move to a circular economy is an essential part of its plan. It says it could take 25 years to transform supply chains from the linear model of make-sell-use-throw away and instead make them circular, with manufacturers taking by-products from each other to keep adding value and nothing going to waste. But it insists that action needs to take place now so that, by the target date of 2050, we can have sustainable ways of making and consuming things.

“From 1970 to 2017, the annual global extraction of materials tripled and it continues to grow,” the Green Deal document says. “About half of total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food. The EU’s industry remains too linear and dependent on a throughput of new materials extracted, traded and processed into goods, and finally disposed of as waste or emissions. Only 12% of the materials it uses come from recycling.”

In the document, the European Commission says it wants to support and accelerate industry’s transition to the circular economy and the Green Deal contains a new circular economy action plan. Part of this will be to take action to stimulate markets, inside and outside the EU, for circular products, encouraging the companies that make these products to create new, green jobs. It will support the circular design of all products and will prioritise reducing and reusing materials ahead of recycling them.

This circular economy action plan will also include measures to encourage consumers to choose reusable, durable and repairable products, handing a competitive advantage to companies whose products or materials meet that description. It says new business models based on renting and sharing goods will play a role “as long as they are truly sustainable and affordable”. The Commission says it will tackle false green claims, vowing that companies engaging in green- washing will end up red-faced, named and shamed.

Public authorities, including the EU institutions, are to lead by example and ensure that their procurement is green. Legislation and guidance on green public purchasing will follow. Billions of euros are at stake here. Companies that verifiably meet the green criteria will be the ones winning the contracts.

It has much to say about waste, making it clear that if waste cannot be avoided, “its economic value must be recovered and its impact on the environment and on climate change avoided or minimised”. Here, too, there will be new legislation, including targets and measures for tackling waste generation. In parallel, the Green Deal document makes clear, “companies should benefit from a robust and integrated single market for secondary raw materials and by-products”.

At the start of this new decade, in which progress is essential if the global economy is to hit its 2030 and 2050 targets, all of these ideas seem sound and well thought- through. It will be obvious to readers of World Leather magazine that, in leather, the European Commission already has in front of its nose a clear example of a production sector that can already meet all of its circular economy requirements. Leather and the circular economy are a perfect match. And yet, the December 2019 document explaining The European Green Deal makes no mention of leather. Zero.

We can say on the one hand that this is disappointing but it’s no surprise, in truth. The European Commission published an earlier document at the end of 2015 called EU action plan for the circular economy. This one made no direct reference to leather either. As in the 2019 document, though, there are lots of indirect references that show how well leather ties in with this concept. Both European Commission documents fail to make the connection between leather and the circular sourcing, circular production and circular consumption arguments they put forward as a model for the future. It’s obvious that the responsibility for establishing those connections lies with the leather industry.

For this reason, World Leather has decided to begin 2020 with a new Leather and the Circular Economy section. We will provide a platform for tanners, leather chemical companies and finished product manufacturers to share their opinions and experiences on this subject. For millennia, skilled people have been taking a by-product from meat and, rather than let it go to waste, have turned it into a material whose versatility, durability, naturalness, sensuality, renewability and beauty knows no parallel. To use leather in shoes, furniture, automotive, aviation and other forms of transport, interior design, handbags or apparel is to choose a raw material that might, otherwise, have gone to waste. It is a material that you can repair and recover for reuse at the end of a product’s useful life, preventing waste again and avoiding the need to extract new resources for the products we buy. It’s the circular economy material par excellence and it’s time more people realised that.

Our Leather and the Circular Economy section will include two types of articles: some covering the thought leadership on the circular economy that people across the leather industry are demonstrating, others covering case studies from companies that make or use leather to showcase their circular stories. The aim is to keep publicising examples of the leather industry’s circular economy credentials.

To make the connection clear, we have picked out ten aspects of the way the best in the business make and use leather and tied them in with the policy details that have come to light so far in the documents from the European Commission. If asked to show why leather is an ideal example of a circular economy product, anyone in the industry will be able to point to these ten reasons. We are pleased to share these ten criteria in the infographic above and we are delighted to offer our first circular economy thought leadership and circular story articles in the December 2019-January 2020 issue of World Leather.

You can read the original post HERE.

New Green Deal Leather Project

Content published by: COTANCE

On 9 September 2022, COTANCE and industriAll Europe held the kick-off meeting of their new social dialogue project ’Towards Zero Adverse Impact of the European Leather Industry – GREEN DEAL LEATHER’.

The European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and the EU Industrial Strategy have identified the textiles ecosystem, including the leather industry, as a priority sector in which the EU can pave the way towards a socially fairer, carbon neutral, circular economy. An EU Strategy for textiles will support it in this transition, repairing the short-term damage from the Covid-19 crisis in a way that also invests in the long-term future of the ecosystem.

Against this EU policy background, the leather sector’s social partners, COTANCE and industriAll Europe, agree that they must further invest in protecting jobs in the leather sector and creating new ones by driving competitive sustainability and building a fairer, greener and more resilient European tanning industry. They will address key issues identified in their 2016 Joint Manifest and subsequent Roadmap towards 2025 (Joint Multiannual Work Programme) in a series of social dialogue projects.

The latest of these projects will address two key issues in the tanning sector: (1) safety at the workplace and (2) the carbon footprint of leather. The project partners will collect the necessary data on both topics through surveys and official information, as well as interviews and other appropriate channels, to provide the sector’s operators and stakeholders with intelligence on both project strands.

The initiative, implemented in 7 countries covering over 80% of the sector’s companies and workers, will be developed through social dialogue. Two international workshops will be organised on the selected topics, printed and video material will be disseminated in a dedicated EU-wide campaign, and a Final Conference, scheduled in Brussels in 2024, will conclude the project, with a presentation of the results.

You can access the original post HERE.