Composting of Leather

composting of leatherComposting is defined as the breaking down of organic matter by microbes in a moist, warm, aerated environment, where the microbes take oxygen from the air and food from the organic material. Typically, the method of disposing used leather is by incineration or landfill. When leather is sent to landfill, it is broken down to produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Composting is a biological method for the end of life management of biodegradable materials.

“Composting is a biological method for the end of life management of biodegradable materials.”

In light of this, research has been carried out by BLC to test the biodegradability of leathers using a natural biological process which takes place in three stages (thermophllic, mesophillic and stabilising). Certain leathers were found to degrade in a time period of 5 months. However, with the use of an enzyme based accelerator, this timeframe was reduced to around 2 months.

Early investigations also revealed that vegetable tanned leather is less biodegradable than chrome tanned leather and in both these leathers there is a resistance to microbial attack, which is part of the definition of tanning.

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