Understanding Raw Materials For The Tanning Industry

In Article2 Minutes

Month: October 2020

One of the issues the leather industry continuously deals with is the way it’s raw material is produced, being the pelts and hides of ruminants and other cattle. In this webinar, hosted by International Leather Maker (ILM) and TheSuaerReport.com, sponsored by the Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), the raw materials are discussed at length by various professionals.

Steve Sothman, president of the LHCA, addresses various misconceptions about leather in his part of the webinar. He focuses on the necessity of ruminants for regenerative purposes, but also the misunderstandings regarding the carbon footprint of cattle. Furthermore, he shares some exciting advancements about the industry, which has managed in the past 40 years to reduce the cattle herd but improve the amount of produce derived from it.

One of the issues the leather industry continuously deals with is the way it’s raw material is produced

Inpelsa charman Manue Rios Navarro shares learnings from the EU funded SELAMBQ project to improve the material quality of Entrefino sheep and lambskins. This sort of research enables the industry to create significant improvements. Similarly, Mauricio Bauer, Senior Corporate Engagement Specialist at the National Wildlife Federation, shares insights from efforts undertaken in the Amazon. One big concern in society is deforestation for cattle rearing, but efforts from the federation have made it possible to produce beef and leather that is deforestation-free. He also discusses Visipec, a tool that creates transparency and traceability for the Amazon-region leather production and helps bring the industry to more sustainable processes.

Watch the full webinar here

Subscribe to our newsletter

    Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


    Leather & Regenerative Farming

    In Article2 Minutes

    Month: October 2020

    The Savory Institute believes in a more sustainable future through transparency and interconnectedness of the supply chain. Cattle rearing is an essential part of regenerative agriculture, where leather in turn is key in creating value from what otherwise would go to waste. Many efforts towards regenerative practices have been focused on the food industry, yet there is an opportunity to synergize with the apparel, interior and automotive industries, believes the institute.

    Soil erosion and degradation is one of the great challenges of our age. As once written by Wendell Berry in ‘The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture’:

    “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

    Regenerative farming is the start for many of the commonly used materials in the apparel, interior and automotive industries.

    Regenerative farming is the start for many of the commonly used materials in the apparel, interior and automotive industries. Yet, no part of the supply chain can work alone, and connecting and working on integrated efforts is essential. By connecting the efforts in agriculture towards soil improvement and cattle rearing with the whole line in multiple industries, all the way to the end markets, a real difference can be made. A joint effort can even help shake up consumers who, for example, now opt for sustainable food, but buy fashion items without regard to their origins.

    The fact that major fashion brand Timberland has already joined the initiative and committed itself to regenerative farming, is therefore vital. It goes to show that sustainable leather is part of that future where we find a better balance with the earth and its soil that nurtures us and the cattle and crops we utilize.

    Subscribe to our newsletter

      Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


      Fruit, Faux, Vegan And Microsuede: The Leather Alternatives

      In Article18 Minutes

      Month: October 2020

      Cactus leather, mushroom leather, pineapple leather, apple leather… Every week it seems a new, revolutionary material is introduced to the world. Their names suggest unrefined origins, the stories promise sustainability; they’re going to make all the old stuff unnecessary.

      …but what are they really, these vegan, synthetic, and fruit leathers? Well, for one they are not leather, which is one of the least refined materials. Leather is a (mostly) intact animal hide that has been treated to be non-perishable with limited coating added. Anything else should have a different label. Let’s break it down further and see what sort of stuff we are talking about, really.

      The Vegan Argument

      Most people who object to leather, use what we can now call the ‘vegan argument’ – a deliberate choice to not use any products that are animal-based.  Agree or disagree, as a personal opinion it is a valid choice to make. The vegan argument connects animal-based sourcing of food, products, and resources to animal suffering, domination or subservience to humans.

      The hype and popularity of the vegan trend have boosted the labeling, development, and sales of many products labeled vegan. Veganism is a valid personal choice. However, as an ecological solution, it can take a too narrow look at the issues we face. In everything we do, we need to think of the impact down the line. If we produce plastics instead, what about product end-of-life? If we use chemicals and plastics to create new materials, what does that do to the carbon footprint? What are the relative advantages (and disadvantages) of natural woven fibers, hides, plastic-based textiles, or combinations of these?

      The largest estimation of vegan consumers in any country does not exceed 10%, at its most optimistic. Yet, the impact of this trend on consumers and manufacturers is significant on a level that has nothing to do with personal preference. So let’s look at these alternatives.

      The impact of this trend on consumers and manufacturers is significant on a level that has nothing to do with personal preference

      The alternative materials to leather 

      Many of the materials, labeled as ‘vegan leather’ (or variations thereof) are in fact petroleum-based. That means plastics, either as a base material or a protective layer. Polyvinyl Chloride, commonly known as PVC, or polyurethane, abbreviated as PU, are the most common forms of ‘vegan leather’. In some cases, other thermoplastics like polyolefin are used. Though there are phthalate-free plastics available, they remain plastics.

      We can divide the alternatives into three main categories: synthetics & coated fabrics, new materials, and engineered materials.

      Synthetics & Coated Fabrics

      Vinyl or PVC and Polyurethane

      PVC is a thermoplastic that is light, tough, durable, rigid, and versatile. It’s created through chemical reactions and the use of plasticizers to create the traditional ‘faux leather’ choice. Unlike genuine leather, it’s likely to start cracking or flaking due to the loss of phthalates (plasticisers) over time. Though it’s chemically resistant, it doesn’t breathe and burns fast. Polyurethanes are more flexible and pliable and as a material may even come to resemble leather. PU is much cheaper though. Plastics like these may be sourced from recycling, but these are all polymers, plastic in nature, inert and non-biodegradable.

      Pleather, also faux leather, imitation leather, vegan leather, artificial leather

      Though leather is mentioned in the name of many of these products, there’s not one bit of the genuine material present in their constitution. Most faux leathers are just a PVC or polyurethane, often bonded with base fabrics which is itself often a polyester weave used to hold it all together. The fabric base can be natural, but that is a rarity. It allows them to be more flexible and durable. One big advantage of PVC or PU materials is their water-repellent properties.

      Leatherette, also leathercloth 

      The name seems to indicate that leatherette is more fabric-like material, but in fact, is no different than the other artificial leathers we’ve just mentioned. It’s simply marketed differently, often used in the automotive industry, but is similarly a fabric/textile base coated with PVC or PU. Its advantage is that I’s easy to clean and low on maintenance.

      Microsuede or microfiber

      Though it sounds like you have an advanced form of suede on your hands, this material is a polyester fiber fabric. It is made to resemble the feel of suede and is often labeled as ‘lacking the downsides of the material’. They’re made with a weave that is finer than one dernier (approximately the standard of one strand of silk), woven with strands of polyester, polyamide, and polypropylene. Ultrasuede and Alcantara are the most well-known microsuedes.

      Microfiber materials are often associated with microplastic pollution, are highly flammable and incineration releases toxic fumes. On the other hand, production has a very low water footprint, it’s highly stain-resistant, breathable, and offers comfort that comes close to leather.

      Waxed cotton/canvas

      Natural fabrics can also be left in a less refined state. Cotton, linen or hemp fabrics can be treated with a coating or wax to create a more resistant material. Waxed canvas is a thicker textile that has been impregnated with paraffin or natural beeswax. Though considered aesthetically pleasing and an affordable replacement of patent leathers, performance is often less durable (which can be overcome with regular maintenance). Some fabrics carry environmental concerns. Cotton uses extreme amounts of water. Materials like hemp offer more sustainable alternatives and contribute to restoring the soil.

      New Materials

      With ‘new materials’, product developers and innovators explore the possibilities other materials offer. Not all of these are naturally suitable and used in the same sort of applications as leather. Much like leather, they require extensive treatment, chemicals, dyes and, in addition, antibacterial and antifungal agents (biocides) to make them non-degradable (only under limited anaerobic conditions plants don’t biodegrade). Some of them also require plastics to hold the materials together and fabric backings for strength and flexibility. Still, most of these lack the strength of a collagen structure and will not be able to handle the same usage as leather. Their main advantage is that they aren’t animal-based.

      Paper & Rock

      Though it may seem hard to believe, there are alternative materials made from paper and rock that are marketed as vegan leather alternatives. In fact, one of the first faux leathers called ‘presstoff’ was made with paper pulp and used for non-flexible leather applications. The modern-day version is a polymer-paper blend, meaning it is a plastic-composite. End of life treatment has shown the materials can’t be separated, meaning incineration is required. Another point is that this is likely not the most efficient way to recycle paper.

      Slate and other rocks have also been turned into leather-like materials. The slight damaging throughout its use, give it a similarly worn look like leather. Yet, this inert material suffers from the same issue as the paper: it’s a plastic composite. Though both these directions offer interesting material experiments, we are left with plastics with additives.

      Vinylon

      One of the more famous stone-based materials is the North-Korean developed vinylon, a fabric made from coal and limestone as an alternative to nylon. Vinylon is labeled as a fabric, and has a wide range of applications, due to its stiffness and durability. Production is costly though and not very sustainable. If sourced from outside of North Korea is mostly petroleum-based. It is mostly used in products like backpacks.

      Cork & Tree bark

      Cork and tree bark can be sourced sustainably and cork trees contribute to CO2 absorption. The material itself is even biodegradable and recyclable and trees do not need to be cut down to source it. Where the bottle stoppers industry is considered, cork is an absolute better option over aluminum caps, but as a leather replacement, the question is more complicated. Both cork and tree bark materials are flexible but need a fabric backing. Chemical treatment and plasticizers are needed to make them durable enough for the market application, creating an issue at the product end of life with separating the materials (incineration is needed).

      Kelp leather or ocean leather

      It may seem that kelp is available in abundance, but trawling for it in waters disturbs ecosystems and potentially damages marine surfaces. Kelp forests are key for carbon-sequestration and extensive harvesting would therefore not be sustainable. The washed-up bits are not usable.

      Fruit leather or apple/pineapple fiber

      Turning the by-products of fruit harvest into materials is a sound plan, but in this case, the process to turn fibers into a leather-like material is not much different from leather. Much treatment and reliance on polyurethanes or PVC is required to make the material suitable for the market and even then, its durability is still in question. Pineapple actually needs a fabric backing due to its anisotropic nature and easy tearing, making its use virtually redundant as it’s basically a more resource-intensive form of making leatherette (a plastic coating with fabric backing).

      Agave/Leaf/Cacti leather

      There’s probably a number of other materials made from plant and tree fibers, but these are some that have seen quite some news coverage. At the core, they are similar materials made from industrial by-products. Agave, for example, is mostly used for tequila production. Leaf leather has an even loftier claim. Producers have stated they only use fallen teak leaves. Cacti leather, however, requires plants specifically grown to create the material (which is in essence a non-sustainable practice).

      Engineered materials

      Collagen or lab-grown leathers

      Numerous initiatives have popped up with the attempt to produce collagen (the material that makes up the protein structure of leather). Combining a lab-created material with 3D-printing technology is one solution to create leather, without animal sourcing. Yet, after a few years of experimenting with biotechnology and bioengineered materials, it’s grown quiet about the miracle-materials.

      Grown leathers or collagen production is a process of biofabrication through cellular modification and genome editing, often associated with GMOs. In fact, we are talking about a derivative of the work done in health care when it comes to the creation of films that could potentially be used as surface material. Artists have already used grown leathers in installation to highlight the ethical dilemma involved in some of these materials. Production is also still extremely costly and little is known about the sustainability of the process

      Mushroom Leather/Mycelium

      The use of fungi faces similar challenges. Growability is one major advantage of mycelium as it is crafted from cellular growth in a lab. The versatility of mycelium has been demonstrated, but its water uptake is an issue and so is large scale production.

      More than anything, engineered materials face enormous design challenges. Though the material driven design is making many forward steps, showing us new possibilities, the disconnect between material and application is a major challenge. A case study that discusses growing design sees the acceptability of these materials as another hurdle (Karana et al, 2018).

      The Eco-Friendly alternative?

      Many of the traditional ‘vegan’ alternatives are in the end plastics. Certainly, some have diluted the content of plasticizer-heavy PVC and polyurethanes by adding natural materials or fabrics, but it’s not enough to make in an actual sustainable option. Patrick Grant, creative director of Norton & Sons, said to the Telegraph about a well-known fashion designer and vegan advocate: “Eighteen years ago, she had been telling people to switch from leather to polyurethane and now the fish have it inside them.” Yet, plastics have a role to play and are vital in some applications and so do fabrics. Leather has unique applications where it fits best, but so do these.

      Each material impacts our planet. Developments may seem promising; the reality of alternatives seems light-years away. With an ongoing effort to make materials like leather more sustainable, chemistry friendlier, and take care of end-of-life issues, we can do better. In the end, it’s also a personal choice, and faux leathers and alternatives will be produced as long as no clarity, transparency, and legislation are in place to prevent confusion about what is what.

      Misuse of the term leather to describe other materials is opposed by many organizations. In some places, like Italy, misuse is even a legal offense now.

      Selected sources:

      • Chapagain, A., Hoekstra, A., Savenije, H., Gautam, R. (2005) The Water Footprint of Cotton Consumption. UNESCO-IHE. Retrieved from: Water Footprint [Accessed on 7 Juli 2020]
      • Fung, W. (2002) Coated and laminated textiles. Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, UK.
      • Karana, E., Blauwhoff, D., Hultink, E. -J., & Camere, S. (2018). When the material grows: A case study on designing (with) mycelium-based materials. International Journal of Design, 12(2), 119-136.
      • King, A.P., Landage, S.M, Wasif A.I. (February 2013) Nonwoven for Artificial Leather. International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 2. Retrieved from: GARPH [Accessed on 7 Juli 2020]
      • Park, J. & Pearson, J. (2018) The Fabulous Story of North Korea’s Fabric made of Stone. Reuters Investigates. Retrieved from: Reuters [Accessed on 7 July 2020]
      • Shakespeare, S. (2018, 10 October) BBC star Patrick Grant criticizes ethical Stella McCartney’s use of faux-leather as it is non-biodegradable. Retrieved from: Daily Mail [Accessed on 7 July 2020]

      Subscribe to our newsletter

        Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


        Decontenting Car Interiors & Brand Loyalty

        In Article10 Minutes

        Month: October 2020

        What has happened to the value of modern-day car interiors? The process of decontenting has been going on for years and has taken flight in recent times. It means car manufacturers are taking out content from their interiors, like leather interior elements, to limit costs. Lower costs, obviously benefits the bottom lines of the manufacturer, but has a big impact on the consumer. After all, car prices haven’t exactly dropped in recent times.

        Cutting costs or cutting corners?

        Decontenting means using lower-grade parts or removing quality from unseen areas to cut costs (Rechtin, 1996). The reasons are often economical and not uncommon in any business. Terms like lean, optimizing, reorganizing or restructuring or efficiency are often thrown around to detract from the remarkably simple bottom line: costs. It makes perfect sense, as any company needs to look out for its health. It’s their responsibility towards stakeholders, customers, and their people to keep the company thriving.

        Decontenting has the obvious advantage of reducing costs. Decontenting becomes a serious problem when product quality suffers and consumers are essentially being misled. It’s where cutting costs turn into cutting corners. The result:

        • Brand reputation – Decontented vehicles are not sold for less, but often contain inferior quality materials, parts, or systems. Recalls, bad reviews and negative advice from sellers can irreparably damage a brand’s reputation.
        • Brand loyalty – When a brand compromises on quality, it goes at the cost of brand loyalty. A recent survey showed that only 20% of car owners are committed to their brand for their next purchase.

        Recent research commissioned by GST Autoleather, a One 4 Leather member, showed that 33% of American and 53% of Chinese car owners who have synthetic materials in their car believed it was genuine leather. Of these car owners, 7% of the Americans will definitely be changing their car brand, and 58% will probably consider other brands in the future. The Chinese car owners are more decisive: 9% of consumers who believed they had genuine leather in their cars will definitely leave the brand, and 65% will probably consider other brands.

        Decontenting is easily sugarcoated with an elaborate ‘positive’ vocabulary. Ford CEO Jim Hackett used the term ‘reductive design’ to describe the process, which makes it seem like a good thing (Posky, 2019). Yet, this ‘reductive design’ rarely benefits of the end-consumer.

        Decontenting has the obvious advantage of reducing costs. Decontenting becomes a serious problem when product quality suffers and consumers are essentially being misled.

        A competitive business

        The automotive industry has been very competitive since the Second World War and with foreign car brands becoming more easily accessible, the pressure was on in the European and North-American car markets to keep up. Japanese car brands were producing economical cars for lower prices. Certainly, these lacked the flair and automotive ingenuity of other brands, but with fuel crises and attractive prices, these quickly gained market share. To compete, brands had to reinvent themselves and find ways to lower their prices.

        As price competitiveness increased, car brands started cutting costs by using simpler technologies, lower-grade parts, removing quality from parts customers don’t see or removing any unique special touches. This trend persisted and some brands paid the price for wanting to cut too much. Toyota, famous for its visionary approach to production (their principle of kaizen – meaning continuous improvement on all levels of production – is used in industries around the world), has had to recall vehicles in large numbers since the 2010s. For a brand once synonymous with quality, that’s a smear on the reputation. There are numerous examples, and some are quite worrying like GM’s intended decontenting of safety technologies (making ABS and other measurements optional). If you can believe forums and references from several industry media outlets, by 2020, the American brand has become close to synonymous with decontenting. An author from Automotive News even named the decontenting strategies from Tesla ‘following the old GM’s playbook’.

        Decontenting as a fallback to cut costs

        Though the above examples serve to clarify what we talk about, decontenting has become a go-to approach for automotive brands. It’s an understandable method, and no brands are more in need of such tactics to make them more attractive as the highly-priced electronic vehicle producers. Profitability and market attractiveness are a major challenge for brands like Tesla and Polestar. McKinsey (2020) estimates a cost gap of $12,000 between the production costs of electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Though preferences have shifted to electric driving, market competitiveness is challenging. Decontenting is an obvious solution, simplifying the interiors and removing expensive elements. Not just for costs, but also to increase energy savings.

        It comes as no surprise from that aspect, that electric vehicle producers are vehement promotors of ‘vegan interiors’. In automotive, that means plastics and chemicals, which have nothing to do with sustainability or animal welfare in the long run. Yet, these materials are much less costly and, therefore, of high interest to manufacturers looking to cut costs. The vegan label and current trend have offered car brands a legitimization to switch to other plastic alternatives, setting a whole new decontenting move in motion. This is a trend, that has become absolutely worrying. Even consumers who are still on the fence about using leather or not fall victim to misleading labeling and enigmatic material ‘brand names’ that hint at being leather (but are in fact vegan synthetics).

        Pay more for less?

        There is a major shift happening in the food, fashion, and interior industry. Many brands work to tie together their supply chains and create more sustainable products or even commit to regenerative supply chains. Leather is a natural part of that, but also a material abundantly available. Cutting costs may be in the interest of businesses, but it’s never been better for the planet. As Randy Johnson, CEO of GST Autoleather said to International Leather maker: “The desire for further ‘cost imperatives’ resulted in the fact that petroleum-based synthetic products became more attractive. The product planning community started converting low entry leathers to low cost, synthetic material, giving them trade names and branding them as ‘engineered’ or ‘better than natural’. We need to reverse this narrative.”

        In all fairness, decontenting is at this point not to anyone’s benefit. With brand loyalty and reputation on the line, and major upheavals in the way we produce, it’s obvious that this form of cutting costs and corners can no longer be continued.

        Selected resources:

        • Bunkley, N. (2019) Is Tesla following Old GM’s playbook? Retrieved from: Autonews [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Carey, N. (2020) GM should emerge from pandemic with permanently lower costs: CEO. Retrieved from: Reuters [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • McCowen, D. (2014) Are your seats actual leather? Retrieved from: Drive.com [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Griffiths, I. (2020) Pole Position. International Leather Maker Magazine May/June 2020.
        • McKinsey Center For Future Mobility® (2020) The future of mobility is at our doorstep – Compendium 2019/2020. Retrieved from: McKinsey [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Niedermeyer, E. (2010) Too Good To Be True: How Toyota’s Success Caused Killer Decontenting. Retrieved from: The Truth About Cars [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Posky, M. (2019) Reductive Design: Ford’s Secret Recipe for Affordable Cars? Retrieved from: The Truth About Cars [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Rechtin, M. (1996) Decontenting: When there’s no costs left to cut. Retrieved from: Autonews [Accessed on 28 October 2020]
        • Truett, R. (2002) GM hits the brakes on BS; antilock will become options on low-end cars. Retrieved from: Autoweek [Accessed on 28 October 2020]

        Subscribe to our newsletter

          Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


          Can Fashion Ever Be Sustainable?

          In Article3 Minutes

          Month: October 2020

          The BBC addressed the environmental impact of fashion in a recent article. When we look at our global emissions, fashion accounts for 10% of the global carbon emissions and 20% of wastewater, which is a significant impact. Yet, the problem is more complex than just looking for more sustainable materials or greenwash the impact of the industry with ‘vegan’-labeled plastic. The problem lies at the very heart of how the industry works.

          In the past decades, fashion has moved from seasonal collections to micro seasons, creating an ever-intensifying cycle of consuming more. Uncountable influencers look for the next thing and perpetuate the accelerating fly wheel of new trends and fads. A pair of new jeans requires a kilogram of cotton, which in turn requires up to 10,000 liters of water to produce. We are able to produce less impactful, more natural materials, yet to make these ready for market, elastane is used or other plastics to enhance the materials, which reduces recyclability. 70 million barrels of fossil oils are used to make the plastics in our clothes. That’s a number we can hardly comprehend.

          But we also produce so much, and the fly wheel spins so fast, that the industry constantly faces overstock and often it’s easier to just put it in landfill or have it burned. At the same time, we require more and more plastic-intensive products with a ‘vegan’ label, meaning we increase the amount of non-degradable products, which we don’t use.

          If we create products that last, be it a car seat, sofa, shoes or jacket, our impact can be radically reduced

          Though as a platform we focus on the automotive branch, a lot of issues are equally interesting as they all concern our choices of materials, ways of sourcing and end-of-life processing. It is becoming abundantly clear that a fix at point A in the supply chain, just creates downstream issues at point B. Looking at the whole supply chain is the way forward, for any material-consuming industry. offers a way forward, life cycle assessments provide a tool to find full-line improvements.

          The other side of the coin is the end-markets. If we create products that last, be it a car seat, sofa, shoes or jacket, our impact can be radically reduced. Wearing a pair of shoes for 9 months longer reduces the impact of the item by 20-30%. Limiting ownership similarly has an impact, as in the UK alone half of the garments in one’s closet are never worn and one fifth of items owned by US customers remain unworn.

          The path forward is there, and it could include all the materials we love, just produced and used better and with an eye for the whole impact on our planet.

          Read the full article here.

          Subscribe to our newsletter

            Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


            Leather Industry Calls For Higg Index Score To Be Suspended

            In Article3 Minutes

            Month: October 2020

            The global leather industry has formally asked the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to suspend the score the nonprofit organization applies to leather in its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI). Launched in 2012, the Higg Index aims to help brands, retailers and manufacturers assess the sustainability of materials for use in footwear, garments, and other consumer products.

            The SAC released an updated version of the index in August 2020. Leading leather industry bodies, including the International Council of Tanners, the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies, the Leather and Hide Council of America, and leather’s representative body in the European Union, COTANCE, have reviewed the August update of the MSI and have concluded that it treats leather unfairly. They have sent a joint letter to the SAC to request that it suspend leather’s MSI score pending reviews of the methodologies and data it uses.

            In the letter, the Secretary of the International Council of Tanners, Dr. Kerry Senior, said the leather industry recognizes the need for assessment of the environmental impacts of products. He added that the industry remains committed to dialogue with the SAC and would work with the organization to make its assessment of leather fairer and more accurate, but he said senior representatives of the global leather sector were in no doubt that the use of “inappropriate methodologies” and “out-of-date, unrepresentative, inaccurate and incomplete data” had led to leather being burdened with a disproportionately high Higg Index score.

            request that it suspend leather’s MSI score pending reviews of the methodologies and data it uses.

            “This has led to a negative perception of leather that does not reflect its sustainable, circular nature,” Dr. Senior said. “On the basis of current Higg score, manufacturers are deselecting leather in favor of fossil fuel-derived, unsustainable synthetic products. We believe that the reputation and viability of leather and leather manufacturers are being unfairly damaged by an assessment that does not reflect the true nature of leather or, indeed, the alternatives.”

            Concerns that leather-sector bodies raise in the letter include the MSI’s:

            • use of old, inaccurate data
            • narrow geographical focus
            • misconceptions about the raw materials tanners use
            • reluctance to take into account the durability and longevity of leather in assessing its environmental impact

            Signing parties:

            Subscribe to our newsletter

              Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.