Credit: Solidaridad

When it comes to sustainability, the leather sector has some cracks

Guest Opinion / Gert van der Bijl, Solidaridad
Published:  18 March, 2021

Global civil society organisation (CSO) Solidaridad has decades of experience in developing sustainable supply chains in agriculture, textiles and gold mining. Based on five years working in sustainable leather, Gert van der Bijl, Policy Influencer at Solidaridad, provides insight on where he feels the global leather sector stands today in terms of sustainability.

Burak Uyguner

Pressure on the leather and tanning industry

First published in the September/October 2019 edition of ILM
Published:  18 November, 2019

Turkey is a country with a long tradition in the leather and tanning industries. The Kazlicesme region in Istanbul was over 500 years old when the tanners started to move their tanneries to the Istanbul (Tuzla) Leather Organised Industrial Zone in the early 1990s.


Promoting a positive image

First published in the July/August 2019 edition of ILM
Published:  16 August, 2019

We are living in a time of profound changes within the global arena. From trade wars to digital transformation and the challenges of sustainability, not to mention the struggle to attract young people to our sector. All these topics are interconnected. They have a strong impact on our industries and will have to be addressed during my mandate. My aim is to contribute to the industry’s overall objective of reinforcing the status of Europe as the global footwear lead. 

Syed Nasim Manzur

Bangladesh industry must transform itself

First published in the May/June 2019 edition of ILM
Published:  19 June, 2019

The leather industry in Bangladesh has certainly not lacked in detractors - for many valid reasons of its own creation. For years, incompetent and dishonest bureaucrats - in connivance with unscrupulous contractors, CETP suppliers and so-called “experts” from academia - have been taking advantage of the preferred “head in the sand” mindset of many Bangladesh tannery owners.

Fernando Bellese

A turning point in our history

First published in the March/April 2019 edition of ILM.
Published:  11 April, 2019

There are moments in history that many people are not so interested in remembering. For the global leather industry, 2018 was probably one of those. Weak demand across almost every leather segment and manufacturing regions, allied to an international scenario of geopolitical uncertainties and strong trade disputes, have cast shadows across the entire industry. 

Taj Alam

True impact of tannery closures in Kanpur

First published in the Jan/Feb 2019 edition of ILM
Published:  25 March, 2019

In the wake of the Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) state Government’s unfortunate and biased decision to close down all the tanneries located in the leather clusters of Kanpur, Unnao and Banthar for three months, from December 15, 2018 until March 15, 2019, due to the annual ‘Kumbh Mela’ - a Hindu religious congregation of bathing in the river Ganges, which takes place at Allahabad (a city about 200km downstream from Kanpur), has caused widespread outrage and unrest in the leather industry in this region.

Egbert Dikkers

What will the Tannery in 2030 be like and does leather have a sustainable future?

Guest Opinion - Egbert Dikkers, Leather Naturally.
Published:  08 January, 2019

First published in the Nov/Dec edition of ILM print and digital. ILM hosted the “Tannery 2030” conference in Shanghai on August 28, 2018 to try and look into the future. Following the presentation sessions there was a four-person panel discussion on the topic. One of the panellists was Egbert Dikkers, Chairman of the Steering Committee, Leather Naturally who prepared a personal vision of what the leather value chain could be in the future. ILM publishes an unedited, positive and possibly utopian view of what the leather supply chain could be like by 2030. It may be aspirational, but it is achievable if the whole industry works together.

Reg Hankey

Living in interesting times

First published in the Sept/Oct 2018 edition of ILM
Published:  30 October, 2018

It is said there is an old Chinese curse; “May you live in interesting times!”, which appears to be a blessing but is actually a curse. I have no doubt that our industry is indeed “living in interesting times” and the leaders of our companies will need all of their wisdom and experience to guide us to a secure future. The leather and associated trades are global operators, with products traded between all countries of the world. As such, we are very exposed to changes in the global geopolitical climate and the related macro-economic trends.

Steve Jeske

Three reasons for the leather industry to work together

First published in the May/June 2018 edition of ILM
Published:  06 August, 2018

The sky’s the limit and the future is bright for the new generation at GST AutoLeather. We are thankful to everyone who has supported the company during the past few months, and we are super excited about our fresh start, especially the opening of our new 180,000 sq ft modern finishing facility in Jiaxing, China – tours will begin in Q2 of 2018.

Lisa Howlett

Leather science does matter

Guest Opinion - Lisa Howlett
Published:  03 May, 2018

First published in the March/April 2018 edition of ILM. While visiting with a colleague the recent Northeast Footwear & Apparel Show in February, I was amused to hear him say that he thought his company should stop using the term “synthetic leather” because of the bad connotation equated to leather now days. In his opinion, today’s buyers are looking for anything but leather.

Philipp Azarchenkov

Russian leather today

Guest Opinion - Philipp Azarchenkov
Published:  07 March, 2018

First published in the Jan/Feb 2018 edition of ILM. The leather industry is one of the oldest in Russia. According to historians, the tanning trade appeared in ancient Russia as early as in 6th–7th centuries. Russian tanners are mentioned in chronicles of 992, and the annals of 1240 read that “Drochilo Nezdylova, son of tanner” fell in the battle with the Swedes. References to the guild of tanners testify that at that time leather working was a special craft, and a respectable one.

Chiara Mastrotto

Sustainability at the core

Guest Opinion - Chiara Mastrotto
Published:  20 December, 2017

First published in the Nov/Dec edition of ILM. Gruppo Mastrotto, the industrial group in the global tanning industry which I represent, places sustainability at the core of its business and its future growth. First and foremost, we must carefully manage our water usage; considered an essential resource not only for the environment but also for the tanning sector given its key role in the production process of leather. The rational management of water is critical, which can be implemented through the design of leather articles, the recycling of process water as well as inside the different production departments within the business.  

Thomas Bee

Leather lives

Guest Opinion - Thomas Bee
Published:  05 December, 2017

Article first published in ILM Sept/Oct 2017 edition. After attending a recent Cotance council meeting in Igualada, Spain, followed by the 6th Freiberg Leather Day’s conference in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands, last June, I would like to pick up once more with a request to the global tanning industry for more positive industry information and propaganda supporting leather and the leather industry, wherever it is possible. 

Gianni Russo

Sustainability drives Italy’s future leadership

Guest Opinion - Gianni Russo
Published:  09 August, 2017

This article was first published in the March-April 2017 edition of ILM. It is truly an honour for me to find myself today leading the Italian Tanners’ Association, UNIC, at a time of unprecedented change in the tanning sector. A real challenge, yet at the same time, the chance to seize opportunities. Italian tanneries from time immemorial have been a cornerstone of the national economy, the focus of studies and analysis the world over. 

David Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Modern Meadow

Modern Meadow explains its next steps

Viewpoint - Modern Meadow
Published:  03 August, 2017

Spokesperson for Leather Naturally and ILM columnist Mike Redwood asked David Williamson, Chief Technology Officer, Modern Meadow for an update of the company’s future plans during the recent Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists (SLTC) conference in Northampton. Article first published in ILM May-June 2017 print and digital edition. 

Rafael A. de Souza Coelho

Challenges and achievements of Brazilian leather

Rafael Araújo de Souza Coelho
Published:  20 March, 2017

The experience of making and using leather from hides has accompanied humanity since its origins, and continues to be a challenge on various fronts such as environmental, chemical, physical and cultural even today. Article first published in ILM January-February 2017 print and digital edition. 

Richard Pai

The Leather Revolution

Article first published in ILM print and digital edition, Nov/Dec 2016
Published:  01 February, 2017

As President of the International Council of Tanners (ICT) and of the Taiwanese International Leather Association (TILA), I recently announced that preparations were under way for the third Congress to be held on August 29, 2017, at the Pullman Hotel in Shanghai South, China.

Hsin Huang, Secretary General, International Meat Secretariat

Meat and leather industries have much in common

Hsin Huang, Secretary General, International Meat Secretariat
Published:  11 August, 2016

Article first published in ILM July-August 2016 edition. The meat and livestock industry is making great strides towards becoming more sustainable. This is fortunate as with a growing population, projected to be over 9 billion by 2050, there will be an increase of around 75% in the demand for meat. Meat and other animal products such as milk and eggs provide a critical contribution and diversity to diets, are nutrient-rich and energy-dense, and are excellent sources of protein, vitamins and key micronutrients.

John Koppany

A new start for Argentina’s tanners

Guest opinion John Koppany
Published:  02 August, 2016

Article first published in ILM May-June 2016 edition. Argentina is a country which almost by definition is profoundly politically and economically unstable, and totally unpredictable. However, because of its more than 55 million head of cattle, a traditional export oriented and well known tanning industry, it has always been a player in the global leather industry. 

Amitabh Mathur

Indian tanners provide jobs for three million

Guest Column - First published in ILM Jan-Feb 2016 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

Leather goods evoke a feeling of luxury and class. However, the leather industry per se including abattoirs, beamhouses and tanneries, does not enter the minds of consumers.

Rino Mastrotto

China has an impact on everyone

Guest Column - First published in ILM Nov-Dec 2015 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

As China is going through a period of huge transformation in its economy, mainly linked to the necessity of managing the slowdown in growth, this is having important consequences in each and every sector, leather included.

Nick Winters

Volatile times

Guest Column - First published in ILM Sep-Oct 2015 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

Hide markets worldwide have been under serious pressure since APLF, the Hong Kong fair, and have brought back the type of stress we encountered at the end of 2008. Although some in the industry are trying to compare these two events, I tend to disagree for three main reasons.

Guilherme Motta

Driving growth in the industry

Guilherme Motta - First published in ILM July/Aug 2015 edition
Published:  01 February, 2016

One of the biggest discussions the industry is going through is about the growth in demand for automotive leather in a moment when the expansion of cattle herds around the world is not keeping at the same pace. In fact, in some areas traditionally known for their cattle production, a reduction or just a marginal growth is expected in the next few years. This is the case in the U.S and Europe.

Muhammad Musaddiq, Director of Siddiq Leather Works

Opportunities for South Asia

Muhammad Musaddiq, Director of Siddiq Leather Works
Published:  17 August, 2015

For the leather industry, the cost of doing business is very high at present, with little or no margins around the world and especially in the South Asian region. The main problems are the cost of the raw materials such as raw hides and process chemicals. Article first published in ILM May-June 2015 edition.


Vulnerable on several fronts

Jonathan Muirhead, Chairman of Scottish Leather Group
Published:  13 July, 2015

Although the leather manufacturing industry in the developed world has declined, certainly in respect of the number of tanneries, most of those that remain are leaner, cleaner, fitter, safer and much more sustainable than ever before.

Jon Clark, CEO PrimeAsia

Does sustainability pay for tanneries?

Guest Opinion - Jon Clark/Sarah Swenson PrimeAsia
Published:  14 May, 2015

Article first published in ILM January-February 2015 edition. Jon Clark, CEO and Sarah Swenson, Environmental Director of tanners, PrimeAsia ask if sustainability pays for tanners. 

John Graebin

Making leather has never been so complicated

John Graebin, Director of Materials, Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Published:  22 January, 2015

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was driving that little tannery truck and dropping bags of salt at mud and straw houses as I collected a few hides in the neighbourhood that week. It was a very poor village in the northern part of Brazil, where families subsisted on a few banana trees and a couple of goats and cows grazing in their backyard. 

Andreas Kindermann

Leather’s positive image in the auto Industry

Andreas Kindermann, CEO, Wollsdorf Leder
Published:  29 October, 2014

Leather is increasingly becoming a distinguishing feature in the automobile industry. Thanks to leather’s surface feel and distinctive smell, customers experience it as something positive and luxurious. This is why they happily opt for it as an extra in their cars.

Mike Larson

“The talking stick”

Guest Opinion - Mike Larson, Tyson
Published:  24 September, 2014

The talking stick is indigenous to our area here in South Dakota and the definition is as follows:

Salvatore Mercogliano

Lineapelle returning to its roots

Salvatore Mercogliano, General Secretary, UNIC, Italian Tanners’ Association and Lineapelle Director
Published:  12 June, 2014

And so Lineapelle has returned to Milan, where it first was in 1981.Italian tanners, driven by their growth, left their stands in the footwear and leather goods fairs and established their own trade show, which immediately propelled them into international markets.

Thomas Strebost

The cheapest leather is often the most expensive

Thomas Strebost, Managing Director, Heller-Leder
Published:  19 April, 2014

A while ago a board member from another leather-related industry association asked me as a current board member of the German Tanners’ Association (VDL  – Verband der Deutschen Lederindustrie) if we, as a well-equipped, safe and sustainable tanning industry, would share our know-how with their leather suppliers in poorer regions of the world which produce cheaper leather.

Juan Colomer LLauger

Getting the balance right

Guest Opinion - Juan Colomer LLauger
Published:  16 February, 2014

Back in late October (2013) I read the very interesting Redwood blog on ILM’s website, “Don’t make a commodity and complain about price”, published on October 29. After reading the article I contacted Mike Redwood with some of my own comments relating to his excellent observations, which has led to my writing this article.

Thomas Schneider

Profit from resource conservation

Guest Opinion - Thomas Schneider
Published:  17 October, 2013

Let’s face it. Our industry has not exactly shone through its economical use of resources. Heavy-oil tanks using out-dated burner technologies, waste heat expelled unused into the atmosphere - in some tanneries, it still looks like the 19th century. It is the same story for the wastewater treatment. 

Panos Mytaros, President, ECCO Leather

Getting away from commodity thinking

Panos Mytaros, ECCO Leather
Published:  20 August, 2013

Many articles are written about the leather Industry relating to the current state of the industry and the market conditions etc etc. I have spent the past 25 years in the tanning industry and have seen a lot and have managed too achieve quite a bit also. In my opinion, to be honest, the industry has not really changed that much. The disconnected relationship between sales demand for leather and supply is a fact: a fact that drives profit margins and the total business forward.

Nuno Carvalho

Defending ourselves against the new threat

Nuno Carvalho - Guest writer ILM Sept/Oct issue
Published:  12 October, 2016

It’s always important for the leather and leather product industries to remind the world that leather is one of the oldest products in existence. Over the centuries, it has undergone many changes and challenges. Today, leather is known by its uniqueness, associated to luxury and with high living standards.