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Artikel: Transforming Waste into a Resource. The Environmental Impact of Leather

Transforming Waste into a Resource. The Environmental Impact of Leather
comunidad crush

Transforming Waste into a Resource. The Environmental Impact of Leather

This post is the result of numerous requests from our readers. Many have contacted us wanting to know more about leather in general, specifically our Syna leather, and the environmental and sustainability aspects of this noble raw material. This post contains more technical details and real data on the subject.
Leather sustainability covers aspects such as environmental compliance, waste management, chemical use, social and labour practices, energy and water use, and the traceability of hides.
 
Regulations and Transparency
Tanneries are regulated by Government and international standards to ensure they meet strict environmental criteria. These regulations are enforced through audits by third-party organizations such as the Leather Working Group (LWG), the Higg Index, and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE). Transparency is key, and many tanneries openly share their compliance data with customers.
Here are four certification programs you might want to explore further:
- Leather Working Group (LWG): The leading certification for the leather industry, known for its prestigious and stringent standards. Our leathers and processes are certified by LWG.
- Higg Index: Evaluates environmental sustainability in the fashion and footwear sectors.
- Sustainability Certification (CSCB): Specific to Brazil, focusing on sustainable practices in tanneries.
- Institute for Quality Certification for the Leather Sector (ICEC): Operates in Italy, providing comprehensive certification for tanneries.
 
Waste Management in Tanning
In terms of wastewater treatment, modern tanneries operate with their own wastewater treatment plants or use municipal facilities or those of the Tanners' Consortium to treat effluents, following recommendations from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS).
For example, the tannery where our Syna leather is made uses a water circularity system where over 80% of the water is reintroduced into the system for reuse. With the installation of a Evaporation Plant, water discharge is almost nil. Additionally, the generated waste is reintroduced into the collagen industry circuit.
 
Solid waste management is also a critical focus. Tanneries manage solid waste according to strict governmental protocols. The goal is to create circular waste streams, where waste is reused in new materials or energy sources.
 Use of Chemicals
Modern tanning industry has made significant efforts to drastically reduce the use of chemicals. For instance, Chromium VI is not used in chrome-based tanning; instead, Chromium III, a much safer alternative, is used. Proper processing in modern tanneries ensures it does not convert to Chromium VI.
The ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Program aims to eliminate hazardous chemicals from textile and leather processes. Over 100 global brands, including us, impose these regulations in their supply chains.
The list of chemicals eliminated from modern tanning processes is extensive. The substances eliminated and those under strict monitoring can be found in the Restricted Substances Lists (RSL and MRSL), as well as in EU-REACH directives and ZDHC guidelines to ensure safe chemical use.
 
Social and Labour Practices
We have all seen images online of tanneries with clearly substandard working conditions. In 21st-century tanneries, workers receive training in chemical handling and machinery operation, and are equipped with advanced safety devices. Regular audits by organizations like LWG and CSCB ensure continuous compliance with high safety standards. UNIDO offers ongoing training programs to further improve workplace safety.
 Automation and Industrialization
Automation has transformed the leather industry, reducing the need for manual labour and increasing efficiency. The most modern tanneries use cutting-edge technology to ensure efficient resource use and optimal working conditions.
 Energy Use and Carbon Footprint
The leather industry in the 21st century is working intensely on energy use and carbon footprint. Accurately determining the carbon footprint of leather is complex due to its connection with the meat industry, but the EU Environmental Footprint Committee has developed guidelines using the Life Cycle Assessment Methodology to standardize the calculation of leather's carbon footprint, recognizing it as a by-product of the meat and dairy industries.
 Traceability and Supply Chain Transparency
The Leather Working Group (LWG) conducts traceability audits to track leather from the farm, through the slaughterhouse, to the final product. This information is accessible to both customers and consumers, promoting transparency and accountability.
 
Yes!!... Leather is a By-Product
Leather is made from the hides of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, which are by-products of the meat industry. Leather production helps reduce waste by reusing hides that would otherwise end up in landfills. This process saves approximately 7.3 million tons of waste annually.
 From a transparent perspective, the sustainability of the leather industry involves a comprehensive approach, including strict environmental compliance, effective waste management, safe chemical use, fair and ethical social and labour practices, and maximum supply chain transparency. By using by-products from the meat industry, leather production contributes to waste reduction and promotes sustainability.

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