Global leather and its environmental impact study – Call for participants

Worldwide
Published:  20 May, 2014

Rafael Laurenti, a researcher at the Division of Industrial Ecology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Stockholm Sweden, and Rita Puig, Professor at UPC Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, are carrying out a global survey on the environmental performance of tanneries committed to the environmental aspects of their business to challenge the unfair public image of leather.

The leather industry is known for being resource intense and has a perception of being a polluting indsutry. “Tanneries are perceived by much of the general public for utilising harmful chemicals, consuming large amounts of water, emitting polluted water back to rivers, and creating bad jobs in the poorer parts of the world”, says Laurenti.

The aim of the project is to improve the image of the leather sector by calculating key environmental footprints linked with the leather industrial activity and comparing them to environmental indicators of alternative materials used for the same purpose, such as cotton and oil based fabrics, in a lifecycle perspective.

The objectives are:

i. Surveying on a global level leather making companies committed to the environmental aspects of their business, and that have been able to ensure substantial improvements in process efficiency and in pollution prevention and control for the tanning of hides and skins.

ii. Calculate carbon, water, energy, chemical and waste footprints of different types of leather processing technologies (chrome-, vegetable- and aldehyde tanning)

iii. Provide a benchmark baseline for less developed tanneries that want to improve their processes.

iv. Compare on a lifecycle (LCA) perspective the environmental footprints of leather with the footprints of alternative materials that can be used for the same purpose.

v. Discuss the potential implications, which the absence of the leather industry would have upon the environment.

Looking for suitable tanners

The participating tanneries will receive a short data collection form to fill out. The data collection form has been validated by experts following two trials. As a non-commercial study and there is no cost to the companies. At the end of the study the participating companies will receive a final report with the results, analysis and suggestions for potential improvement. The names of the companies and sensitive data will remain confidential. Nevertheless, certainly, publicity and recognition for participating companies can be made.

Companies interested in participating can contact Rafael Laurenti at rafael.laurenti@abe.kth.se

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