The half-day conference organised by BLC Leather Technology Centre and APLF Ltd attracted a large number of international brands and retailers in the audience as well as tanners and tannery suppliers. The conference began with a presentation from Paul Littlefair, Head of International, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) who spoke of the organisation’s role in improving animal welfare around the world. He gave examples of how the RSPCA was working with other NGO’s and local famers in various countries to improve the health and living conditions for farm animals as well as pets and wild animals. He cited the banning of veal crates as one area where they had managed to pass EU legislation to stop the practice among others. He said the process of getting legislation passed is slow but worthwhile.

Subsequent presentations from Lanxess, Zenith Industrial Chemicals and Stahl spoke about greener leather chemistry such as new cleaner fungicides, beamhouse, tanning and retanning systems which were less toxic and polluting than previous chemicals performing similar roles.

In the final part of the conference, Lyn Ip of Adidas Group and spokesperson for the ZDHC Group gave an update on the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Group which is made up of 18 global brands and retailers and aims to reduce the levels of chemical discharge from mainly the textiles industry. However, from 2014 the Group has been looking at leather as a material and is working with the Leather Working Group (LWG). Ip said that they had just released a draft consultation document which has been sent to the LWG, CLIA, TILA and UNIC for review.

VF Corp which includes a number of high-profile brands such as Timberland are not part of the ZDHC group and have instead devised its own CHEM-IQ chemical management system. Dr Kitty Mann, Director of Product Stewardship at VF Corp outlined the latest and ongoing developments in the company’s chemical management protocol.

The conference was completed with an update from Paul Pearson, Secretary General ICT on the latest developments with the Product Environmental Footprint for leather.

The conference was sponsored by Lanxess, Tanac, Stahl, Zenith Industrial Chemicals and ILM was the official media partner.