One tannery per Mega City – Not a chance!

The Toggler blog
Published:  28 May, 2014
The Toggler

I read last weeks “The Redwood’s Blog” with interest. Mega cities, sure, urbanisation, sure and the utopian ideal of each City having a tannery which would be clean and beautiful, environmentally friendly and produce exactly the right product (from the skin of whatever animals were the local delicacy of said Mega city) for the local consumer. Not a chance! 

And I say this because of the tanning sector management mentality and the image of the tannery. No city wants a tannery – tanneries are being evicted from cities the world over – as an unwelcome industrial sector.

There are two types of tannery in the world; the big boys and the little ones. If the world tanning sector was operated by a few of the big boys (no names!) then the dream could come true. The normal rules of business, environmental compliance and common sense would apply and each city would have its ideal tannery (operated by one of today’s world players).

But the tannery world is full to overflowing with the small guys. A typical small tannery is a family owned affair, operating in splendid isolation from the developing industrial world. The main driver for these businesses is survival and a nice car to drive (not necessarily profit). They are often in denial about environmental costs and still trying to avoid pollution control investments; machinery is often old, based on technology that is old and what is worse, they promulgate the old ways in new tanneries (because it worked before, it will still work). Redwood’s vision extends to 2045 (from 2014 – 31 years hence!) but I see many tanneries today using 30 year old equipment and that won’t change. Why?

These types of tanneries, in the worst case scenarios eg recent closures for pollution issues in India and China, are and will be closed. But not on the scale required to reduce the world’s tanneries to what was it? 280? These small tanneries are amazingly resilient and will resist all manner of change. In fact it is that stubborn resistance to change and a narrow mind-set that characterises these small operations and will be the main driver in keeping the tanning sector fragmented, operating small units and not located one per mega city in 2045.

The Toggler

thetoggler@internationalleathermaker.com