LWG launches leather lifecycle assessment study

Worldwide
Published:  12 November, 2021

The Leather Working Group (LWG) has announced what is reportedly the largest lifecycle assessment (LCA) for the leather industry to investigate the environmental impact of leather made in LWG-certified facilities.

In collaboration with Milan-based sustainability consultancy Spin360, the study will begin by defining its goal and scope in the first stage. This will include defining the type of leather that will be considered in the study, as well as factors such as geographical origin, animal type, tanning technologies and the industries served (footwear, apparel, upholstery, etc.).

The LWG’s LCA study will collect and analyse data from a minimum of 40 leather manufacturers based in various regions across the globe — making it the largest ever LCA conducted for the leather industry. By maximising and diversifying the data collected, the study will aim to include a wide representation of leather made in LWG-certified facilities.

During the data collection phase, the study will draw on information about the raw material, energy usage, chemicals, water consumption, water and air emissions, and waste management — all of which is already collected and validated as part of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit. The study will also collect additional information from leather manufacturers directly.

The Life Cycle Impact Assessment will be thoroughly peer reviewed and will be aligned with the most relevant provisions of the ISO 14040 on data quality, including time related coverage, geographical coverage, technology coverage, representativeness, and consistency.

It will provide insights into a range of environmental impact categories such as global warming potential (climate change), abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), eutrophication, water resource depletion and toxicity.

Using the data and insights generated by the LWG LCA, brands and retailers will be able to make science-based sourcing decisions and progress towards their supply chain sustainability goals, the organisation says. In addition, the LWG will utilise the results from the LCA to further refine the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol.

Fernando Bellese, Chief Sustainability Officer at PrimeAsia Leather Company, said: “The LWG LCA is an exciting initiative. Discussions around the impact of leather have often been based on outdated information and assumptions. It is very positive to see a renowned organisation such as LWG leading this sector-wide assessment, generating updated, scientific-based data about the industry.

“The LCA will also be very helpful in providing further improvement insights and opportunities for LWG to continue generating additional environmental efficiencies for the global leather sector.”