Dutch to help establish sustainable Mongolian tanneries

The Netherlands - Mongolia
Published:  19 June, 2014

MVO Nederland and various Dutch companies from the leather industry, including Stahl, have entered into a partnership to support tanneries in Mongolia with making their production process sustainable. 

These companies are going to assist in setting up a sustainable tannery in Mongolia, as well as the production locations for shoes, bags and clothes. This was announced by the companies involved today, during a congress for the Dutch leather sector, held under the theme of sustainable leather production.

Stahl started creating closer ties with the tanning sector in Mongolia in 2013, in a collaboration with the Mongolian government and tanneries. The aim was to make the local production process more sustainable and improve the quality of the leather. Working together with MVO Nederland, a joint venture was set up to establish the first sustainable tannery in Mongolia. 

The tannery will use new technologies and products where needed, which are less harmful to the environment. At the same time the employment conditions will be assessed and improved. The partnership also aims to encourage other tanneries in Mongolia to follow this sustainable example. In order to achieve that, the Dutch companies will provide advice, schooling and technical support and assist in selling the Mongolian products in the Netherlands. The tanneries will become certified, whereby they will be able to carry a Mongolian sustainability label. That label will make future consumers aware that the leather shoes, bags or jackets have been made by the most sustainable route possible in the Mongolian highlands.

Investment needed

The Mongolian leather sector has barely developed since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The tanneries operate under the authority of Chinese traders. The tanneries use Chinese chemicals, which do not meet the international safety and environmental standards. Although the tanneries have always been willing to change the situation, they did not have the power to do so. Now that the Mongolian economy is growing and the government is stimulating ‘green developments’, opportunities have opened for tanneries to make their production process sustainable and improve the quality of the leather. This will also enable them to supply customers outside of China.

Groundbreakers in the leather sector

The conference ‘Grensverleggers in de leersector’ (Groundbreakers in the leather sector) held in Utrecht was the first time that the entire Dutch leather sector – from skin traders to chemical suppliers and brands to retailers – was brought together to discuss projects for making the leather sector more sustainable. MVO Nederland is implementing a programme to promote sustainable business in developing countries. The leather sector is one of the first to combine forces to initiate sustainable change.

Besides Stahl, the following Dutch companies are involved in the initiative: Macintosh Retail Group, known for the retail formulas Manfield, Scapino and Dolcis; OAT Shoes that brings fully degradable shoes onto the market; the sustainable bag label MYOMY; Donders’ DNR brand that makes sustainable leather jackets and the clothing brand Traced Good that’s strives for transparency in the supply chain.

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