Discover How A Real Automotive Tannery Works

In Article2 Minutes

Month: November 2019

Tanneries have always been a little mysterious. A random search on the Internet doesn’t help you either, as the images of people in colorful pits or harmful circumstances are far from the truth.

Did you know that automotive leather tanneries adhere to the most stringent requirements in the industry? This is to make sure that the leather we produce and our production methods meet the highest standards. We are continuously audited by our customers and by 3rd party auditing companies such as the TÜV, LWG and ECO2L against out standards, because we believe that the leather-making process can exist while maintaining a healthy workspace and reducing our impact on the environment.

Automotive leather tanneries adhere to the most stringent requirements in the industry

In short, this means that automotive tanneries adhere to high standards and therefore:

  • respect human and labor rights and commit to fair and safe working conditions.
  • constantly look for new ways to utilize the skin and hide components as optimally as possible.
  • replace potentially harmful substances mostly earlier than legally required.
    Read more about eco-friendly chemistry.
  • operate with optimal water use and wastewater treatment and ensure clean air.
  • Allow no child labor to take place in the automotive leather industry.

These are only a few examples of guidelines we comply to, but it gives you an insight on how automotive tanneries work to create a better industry and long-lasting material as a result of that. Read more about what makes automotive leather unique.

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    Automotive Leather Lasts A Lifetime

    In Article2 Minutes

    Month: November 2019

    Leather has been a part of our modes of travel for ages, from sedan chairs and carriages to our modern day yachts, public transport, airplanes and cars. But why is that?

    It has always been a preferred material for a number of reasons. One of them is its long life and endurance. Other materials such as plastic and fabrics have proven to be less durable over years of use and are hard to recycle or reuse. You can see it for yourself in old cars: there might be some rust here and there, but the leather, if treated well, remains in pristine condition. But those are big words, we know. So let us explain what properties leather has that gives it such extended lifetime:

    • Leather is extremely strong and resilient. 
      Leather can take a remarkable amount of tension and recover, without tearing, and its adaptability prevents cracking and makes it rubfast.
    • We can apply enhancing finishes to the leather to repel liquids, dirt and bacteria. 
      Leather by itself is well conditioned to repel liquids and dirt, but thanks to high-end finishes it becomes even more resistant to soiling, staining, scuffing and scratching.
    • Leather moves with the conditions its in. 
      Leather has this ability in its very nature as it expands and shrinks with heat to preserve its integrity.
    • Naturally flame retardant.
      Leather is a natural product and when it is exposed to intense heat, it will first harden and shrink before actually catching fire.

    As a material choice, you see that leather pays back for itself: ready to serve for a lifetime!

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      Flame Retardancy Is In The Nature Of Leather

      In Article7 Minutes

      Month: November 2019

      Statistics tell us that 1 in 100,000 people died in fires between 2001 and 2016. Yet in vehicles, the chance of this happening is twice as high. This is based on numbers reported by the Center of Fire Statistics (CTIF). This number is significant and each life lost to fire is one too many.

      That’s why it is important, when we choose the materials for our homes and cars, to look beyond comfort and appeal. We can enhance our safety quite a lot with the right material choices and measures. Leather, as one of those material options, has the great benefit of natural flame retardant properties, which is vital when the stakes are highest.

      Safety from fire when every second counts

      There are a number of ways to test the flammability of materials and commonly this is done according to specifically set ISO standards (or ANSI in the United States). These standards allow for a universal way of measuring the flame retardancy by comparing the way materials react. We could let the hare and tortoise run the same race in water and the result would be very different. That’s why these standards matter; where samples are exposed to heat and flames in standard conditions and the burning speed is monitored for comparison. The slower the fire races down a sample of the material, the more flame resistant it is.

      ISO-standards for interior material and leather used to assess the flammability are ISO 3795:1989 (E)EN ISO 6940:2004 and ISO-5660 – 1:2002 (E) (now revised by ISO 5660-1:2002). The methods are very strictly described. With these tests, the qualities of natural leather on flame resistance become abundantly clear:

      • Exposing natural leather to temperatures of 130-170°C for extended periods does not do any structural damage.
      • Leather can resist short-time exposure to temperatures up to 200°C.
      • Extended exposure to temperatures above 200°C results in pyrolysis (the material decomposes, or burns, which is obviously irreversible).

      Now, extensive testing proves that leather outperforms other materials when it comes to flame resistance, such as fabrics or synthetics. It also is resistant to ignition, which is particularly relevant for fire prevention as 80% of fires are associated with “flashover”, which is what we call the fast and sudden spread of fires. Slowing down the fire and building material barriers into automotive upholstery helps to prevent this from occurring, but is the natural quality of leather in resisting heat up to 200°C enough?

      Leather, as one of those material options, has the great benefit of natural flame retardant properties, which is vital when the stakes are highest.

      Flame retardants to enhance natural qualities

      During a car fire, it’s only a matter of minutes until temperatures soar to an astonishing 900°C. During experiments, it becomes clear how vital the flame-retardant properties actually are, as the first few minutes of smoldering are still at lower temperatures, before the flames spread and ‘flashover’ occurs. This is where leather can buy you vital time, particularly with flame retardant technology (treatment with fire retardant chemistry) that slows down ignition and eventual combustion. It is the last line of defense that can make the difference between life and death. That’s why flame retardants matter, as they enhance the properties that are already there.

      And that is again where leather has the advantage, as its natural qualities can be improved during the whole production process from tanning to finishing (and aftercare). Other materials mostly rely on treatment during the finishing stage, where leather is enhanced to its very fibers. The difference? When the burning speed of artificial PU laminate was tested in comparison to leather, it showed a burn length of +82%*. If we go back the race, it means the PU is the hare that finishes almost twice as fast! Now, in a starting car fire, that means a difference between having two minutes or just one.

      Chemical use in fire safety

      Within the EU, the use of chemicals is carefully monitored. The leather industry is always looking to reduce its environmental footprint and looks for safer water-based chemistry when It comes to improving fire safety of interior materials. This way, leather manufacturers provide high safety standards, but with a lower environmental impact, to make the difference there where it matters most.

      Find out more about leather properties.

      Footnote:
      *In this standardized set-up, JAR/FAR 25853-compliant testing used in the aviation industry, a minimum of 3 specimens of the material are tested in a vertical position in exposure to a Bunsen burner flame at the lower end for a) 60 seconds, b) 12 seconds.

      Insights and numbers cited in this article are derived from the following resources:

      • Brushlinsky, Ahrens, Sokolov & Wagner (2018) World Fire Statistics
      • Kozlowski, Ryszard & Mieleniak, Bozena & Muzyczek, Malgorzata & Fiedorow, Ryszard. (2006) Flammability and Flame retardancy of leather.
      • Li, Zhu, Zhu, Yu, Gao & Jiang (2017). Flame spread and smoke temperature of full-scale fire test of car fire.
      • Bacardit, Borràs, Soler, Herrero, Jorge and Ollé (2010), Behavior of Leather as a Protective Heat Barrie rand Fire Resistant Material.

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        Leather Is A Sustainable Resource For Car Seating

        In Article4 Minutes

        Month: November 2019

        We, as people, have become more aware of our environmental footprint through the years. The global consumption of our resources has edged us closer to a point where depletion of our planet’s resources is a tangible risk and we look towards alternatives in order to stem the tide. Leather has a part to play in that.

        Upcycling hides to lower waste

        Animals are grown for their meat, which you can read more about in our article on leather as a by-product. It is important to mention that the demand for leather does not affect in any way the number of animals slaughtered. Currently, the increased global consumption of meat means that an increasing number of hides are being produced. Although meat consumption is growing, leather demand is failing as a general opinion favors alternatives. And this, in fact, is worrying.

        If we don’t convert hides and skins to leather, we will create an immense amount of waste on a yearly basis. This waste pile would be of a size equal to 750 times the Eifel Tower. Upcycling hides into leather is not only appropriate to use of a renewable resource of which we have so much available, it also reduces a waste pile for which we have little alternative solutions except landfill or incineration.

        Leather matches the lifetime of a car

        As customers we want our automotive interiors to look good and to last as long as the car does without splitting, or cracking. The unique properties of leather make it possible that the seating and trim will last significantly longer than competing materials. This has a lot to do with its natural functional properties. This product longevity is a major credential for the sustainability of leather, as it almost never needs to be replaced. Over the lifetime of a car, the overall carbon footprint of a single set of leather seats will be lower than the carbon footprint of several sets of seats made from other materials.

        Over the lifetime of a car, the overall carbon footprint of a single set of leather seats will be lower than the carbon footprint of several sets of seats made from other materials.

        Less cleaning, smaller footprint

        Though there are many cleaning and care products available for your car interior, the leather material used in your car is in itself resistant to most forms of dirt and staining. Washing or treatment is rarely actually needed and cleaning the seats with a damp cloth is often enough. Leather can, after a while, benefit from deep cleaning, but the full cycle of dry-cleaning and removing seat covers never needs to happen during normal use. This lowers the carbon footprint of the in-use product, as less water, cleaning agents, and energy is needed to keep the leather in pristine condition. On the other hand, the cleaning that does take place replenishes the material, where for others it gradually makes them lose their plasticizers. This is followed by cracking or other damage and eventually their replacement with new upholstery.

        The fact that leather reduces the global waste pile has a longer product life than most alternatives, and requires little maintenance makes it one of the sustainable choices of our time. Find out how leather is also the most.

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          Sizing Up Vegan Leather: Just A Fad?

          In Article2 Minutes

          Month: November 2019

          Today’s consumer expresses their concern for the environment by the choices they make: what they eat and what they use. Yet, for some, it would appear that their choices are being fueled by sentiment rather than knowledge. Fortune asks: are the alternatives to genuine leather just a fad?

          Major market players such as Tesla have taken firm stances on material choices, as mentioned in the article. Elon Musk wants to offer a full vegan car. But do we actually stop and think what that means precisely? Apparently, most of the time, we do not. While there are a variety of nature-based products available, containing cork, pineapple leaves, apple peel and numerous other substances, most of them have their own impact on the environment.

          The majority of materials marketed as alternatives to genuine leather are made from plastic-based polyvinyl chloride—PVC—and polyurethane referred to as PU. There’s nothing new about these materials: they’ve been around for decades and their resourcing can hardly be called sustainable. This why natural-based materials like genuine leather are attractive. Genuinely sustainable materials are made with the latest green technologies and include state-of-the-art traceability systems, which may mean that when it comes to costs, consumers (and brands) often opt for affordable PVC and PU-based materials instead of more expensive materials.

          The majority of materials marketed as alternatives to genuine leather are made from plastic-based polyvinyl chloride—PVC—and polyurethane referred to as PU.

          Leather, in the meantime, is a sustainable choice that is readily available and, due to the globally increased demand for meat, can be available in abundance. The leather industry has worked hard to turn a new leaf on environmental responsibility in recent decades, creating unparalleled traceability in their supply chain. However, the lack of information on the origin of other materials is now becoming a major concern.

          Read the full article HERE.

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            When is Leather not Leather?

            In Article2 Minutes

            Month: November 2019

            From faux leather to terms like ultrasuede or pleather, there is a wide range of materials available that may appear to be what it definitely is not. But what are they and how can you distinguish between them? This is a question Leather Naturally asked, and they explored the different terms that float around in communication and advertising.

            One of the reasons for much of the confusion is the variety of terms created as attempts to rebrand faux leather: a material that was originally sold cheaply, and simply lacked the properties of genuine leather. Faux leather has for a long time sounded like an affordable version of the genuine article. Most certainly, this material has improved properties and offers various benefits, but it is not leather, no matter what you call it.

            However, some names are really confusing and don’t ring true. A term like ‘vegan leather’ is an oxymoron: contradictory and even misleading. True leather can only be produced from animals. Similarly, ultrasuede, artificial leather, and leatherette borrow on the reputation of genuine leather to imply those properties unto themselves. Borrowing on the implied luxury and reliability of genuine leather it has helped these modern plastics to elevate their status in the public perception.

            A term like ‘vegan leather’ is an oxymoron: contradictory and even misleading

            In this factsheet, Leather Naturally explains what is what, providing an easy tool for brands and manufacturers that want to know what is what and how it differs.

            Download the factsheet from Leather Naturally.

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              How Environmentally Friendly is Tesla’s Vegan Move?

              In Article2 Minutes

              Month: November 2019

              Tesla announced that its Model 3 would have a leather-free interior. This announcement is part of the attempts of the brand to appeal to vegans but has also prompted questions about the actual environmentally friendliness of opting for leather-free materials. Vegan as a product label, as many vegans know, is not always the same as sustainable.

              Market Realist suggests that the move may appeal to animal rights activists, particularly those pointing fingers at the leather industry. Benefits such as animal welfare and sustainability should, however, be questioned as this doesn’t always look at the entire supply chain and its effects. And the question remains if Tesla is, in fact, offering a more eco-friendly option.

              Climate Change scientists are increasingly demonstrating that environmental concerns over cattle rearing are mis-informed. This misinformation is impacting not only the leather industry, but the meat and plastics industries that it relies on, and as a result of the reduced demand for genuine leather, hides are being sent to landfill.

              Vegan as a product label, as many vegans know, is not always the same as sustainable

              Plastics, however, which are the common replacement for leather, are currently a much more significant concern for environmentalists particularly since these are resourced from non-renewable resources and contribute to the microplastics pollution challenge. But one more point of interest is that replacing leather with other materials is, in fact, a form of decontenting car interiors. It reduces the value of the vehicle, to make it more palatable in a market where EVs are significantly higher in price. The vegan label may suggest an environmental motive, but it’s simply a form of cost reduction.

              Ultimately, the choice lies with the consumer, but stating that leather-free materials are more eco-friendly is currently highly debatable.

              Read the entire article HERE.

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