Tanners should seek a renewable carbon path

ILM Comment
Published:  21 August, 2020
Credit: Karsten Würth

Leather: A natural high-tech material

To add further weight behind the march towards the use of more renewable carbon into leather, a recent study by Autenrieth, Walker, Buckenmayer and Escabros from Germany headquartered leather chemical maker Trumpler has compared the renewable organic content of commercially produced leathers and their corresponding synthetic materials. A summary of this excellent study has been published in the September/October 2020 edition of ILM magazine (Leather: A natural high-tech material, pages 67-72) and it is well worth a read.

The authors report that due to the natural collagen content that leather exhibits, it has an intrinsically high content of renewable material. In Trumpler’s study leather comes out very well, while the commercially available synthetics feature very low renewable carbon contents. When you think of the natural animal origin of leather and how skin is made during the life of an animal it’s obvious that the substrate that makes leather is inherently from a renewable resource. The study concludes; “Leather is a unique, natural and beautiful material and we can acknowledge and promote it as such. The aim of the present contribution is to support this claim with clear and provable facts”.

Tanners should shout out loud about their renewable carbon substrate and work towards processing hides and skins with greater levels of commercially available bio-based chemicals. It can help blow away the ‘cruelty-free’ myth which the anti-leather propagandists throw at the industry as leather is a long-lasting material from a by-product of the food industry which has an excellent renewable carbon content.

Martin Ricker, Content Director, ILM