Sustainable Leather Manufacturing
The whole process of converting hides and skins into leather involves a sequence of complex chemical reactions and mechanical processes. The impact of tanning and associated activities on air, surface and ground water, soil and resources arises from the chemicals applied, the raw materials used and the effluents, waste and off-gas generated in the process. Therefore provisions for pollution control, waste generation and disposal, chemical safety and raw material and energy consumption are essential.
“…provisions for pollution control, waste generation and disposal, chemical safety and raw material and energy consumption are essential”
Best available technologies, cleaner processing, better chemical management and waste minimisation are important factors when defining the ultimate sustainable tanning process. Beyond this options for recycling, and adding value to waste need to be considered.
Leather stewardship programmes such as the Leather Working Group and chemical management programmes such as the ZDHC programme will help to define best practice around leather manufacture and help to understand and measure the environmental footprint of leather processing.