One 4 Leather Signs COP26 Leather Manifesto

In Article6 Minutes

Month: January 2022

The COP26 environmental summit held in Glasgow (November 2021) challenged governments around the world to make firm commitments on how to reduce global warming. The production and use of automotive leather has a role to play in this ambition. As natural materials like leather are not fossil-fuel-based, they can positively contribute to reducing the climate impact of consumer products.

One 4 Leather therefore was keen to be among the many signatories of the ‘COP26 Leather Manifesto’ which sets out the reasons why sustainable leather is part of the solution – not the problem – of climate change.

Here is the manifesto in full:

Our Materials Impact our Climate

The world needs materials that are sustainable, renewable, recyclable, biodegradable, and most importantly, do not add to the burden of atmospheric carbon.

Natural fibres, such as leather, cotton, wool, mohair, alpaca, silk, hemp and mycelium, are part of the biogenic carbon cycle and as such are comprised of carbon that has been in the atmosphere for a millennia.

These readily available raw materials, when ethically and properly produced, are an important replacement for fossil fuels, reducing the need for its extraction and retaining more carbon in the earth.

Furthermore, at the end of life, properly produced natural materials will biodegrade, limiting their impact and mitigating harmful emissions, such as microplastic pollution, often associated with the synthetic materials that they replace.

With particular reference to leather, the leather manufacturing sector upcycles an unavoidable waste from the food industry, to produce a versatile, durable, unique material, ideal for the circular economy that the world must move towards.

Furthermore, at the end of life, properly produced natural materials will biodegrade, limiting their impact and mitigating harmful emissions, such as microplastic pollution, often associated with the synthetic materials that they replace.

However, these same materials are often dismissed through a lack of understanding of the manufacturing process and its supply chain, or through the application of questionable science generally in the form of incomplete and incomparable or out-dated Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), and the marketing of new, often fossil fuel-based materials claiming unsubstantiated levels of sustainability.

As shown by some emerging climate science studies, such as the GWP* model, production and use of biogenic materials typically does not add to the warming burden of the atmosphere, and where it does, the effects are short-lived. This is in contrast to materials produced from fossil-fuels, which release carbon that has been locked in the earth’s core for a millennia, and will persist in the environment, contributing to climate change.

Therefore, we, the undersigned organisations, call on the COP26 forum to…

  • Recognise the cyclical, climate efficient nature of natural fibres and their potential for a positive contribution to reducing the climate impacts of consumer products.
  • Encourage the use of natural fibres wherever feasible and reduce unnecessary reliance on fossil-fuel-based materials.
  • Support LCA methodologies that accurately account for the environmental impact of fossil-fuel based materials, including end of life properties.
  • Promote ‘slow fashion’, durable products, and items that can be used many times, repaired and refurbished, and last for years.

Signatories to the Leather Manifesto

Asociación Española del Curtido (ACEXPIEL – Spanish Tanners’ Association)

Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Curtumes (APIC – Portugal Tanners’ Association)

Association of Dutch Hide Traders (V.N.H.)

Australian Hide Skin and Leather Exporters’ Association Inc. (AHSLEA)

Cámara de la Industria de Curtiduría del Estado de Guanajuato – México (CICUR)

Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Curtiduría – México (CANALCUR)

Centre for the Brazilian Tanning Industry (CICB)

Centro Tecnológico das Indústrias do Couro (CTIC – Leather Center in Portugal)

China Leather Industry Association

Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE)

Dutch Association of Leather Chemists & Technicians (NVLST)

International Council of Hides, Skins and Leather Traders Association (ICHSLTA)

International Council of Tanners (ICT)

International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS)

Fachverband der Textil-, Bekleidungs-, Schuh- und Lederindustrie – Berufsgruppe Ledererzeugende Industrie (Austrian Association of Textile, Clothing, Shoe and Leather Industry – Leather Producing Industry Group)

Fédération Française des Cuirs et Peaux (French Hides & Skins Association)

Fédération Française Tannerie Megisserie (French Tanners Association)

Leather and Hide Council of America

Leather Cluster Barcelona

Leather Naturally

Leather UK

Leather Working Group

One 4 Leather

Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists

Sustainable Leather Foundation

Swedish Tanners Association

Turkish Leather Industrialists Association (TLIA)

UNIC Concerie Italiane (Italian Tanneries Association)

Verband der Deutschen Lederindustrie e.V. (TUV – German Leather Federation)

Wirtschaftsverband Häute/Leder (WHL – German Hide and Leather Association)

Zimbabwe Leather Development Council

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    Are Tesla’s Vegan Car Seats All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

    In Article2 Minutes

    Month: January 2022

    There are many anecdotal reports online about Tesla owners complaining that their car seats and headrests are prone to damage such as bubbling. This has been blamed variously on the use of lotions, cleaning solutions or even hair products. While One 4 Leather cannot comment specifically on the Tesla cases, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that so-called ‘synthetic leathers’ required by manufacturers who promote vegan car interiors do not perform as well as genuine leather for cars.

    Natural properties of leather

    report by FILK (the Research Institute for Leather and Synthetic Materials) demonstrated that no single ‘leather alternative’ matches all of automotive leather’s characteristics. Particularly in terms of water vapour permeability and absorption, leather outperforms them all.

    Sustainable leather is naturally resilient

    The report also demonstrates that leather is also superior to its competitors in terms of how long it lasts. In tests of durability such a flex and tear resistance it outperforms them all. To highlight the durability and flexibility of leather, we put together a cool little animation. As it shows, thanks to its natural fibres, leather has excellent tensile strength and is more resistant to tearing than synthetics.

    In addition, unlike leather, the synthetic substitute is unlikely to be repairable if something goes wrong – like tearing or bubbling. The only choice is to throw it away. Most vegan alternatives to leather use plastics in some form or other – particularly as backings – so these materials will not biodegrade like leather and are likely to contribute to the problem of waste plastic that is plaguing the world and oceans today.

    Leather is best for your car interior

    Whether you have a Tesla or any other car brand with non-leather upholstery, once your synthetic covers have reached the end of their (un)natural lives, we heartily recommend retrofitting with natural car interior leather for a more sustainable, comfortable and durable car seat.

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      Prince Charles Advocates For Leather (Stella McCartney Does Not)

      In Article6 Minutes

      Month: January 2022

      The Times reports that long-time green campaigner Charles, Prince of Wales, was impressed by new technology for tracing the source of materials used in the fashion industry.

      While at the event in Rome he also asked Thierry Andretta, chief executive of exclusive fashion house Mulberry, where the genuine leather for a handbag he’d been shown had come from. He was told it was sourced from regenerative farming methods and had a low carbon footprint. According to The Times, he said “he wished ‘people knew the value’ of ethically-produced leather in the ‘circular economy’ over plastic or ‘strange spun’ synthetic material.’”

      Sustainability initiative 

      The tool for determining the source of fashion materials is called ‘Digital ID’ and was developed under the Sustainable Markets Initiative, an organisation established by the Prince of Wales which, The Times reports, “aims to accelerate businesses’ transition to more eco-friendly practices”. Adopted by brands such as Burberry, Giorgio Armani and Stella McCartney, it comprises a QR code which when scanned by a smartphone reveals the sustainability credentials of what’s being bought. Essentially it is a digital birth certificate which details where and when an item of clothing was made. The code remains with the clothing throughout its lifetime so, even if it is resold as second-hand clothing, subsequent owners can still check out its heritage.

      Although a fierce critic of the fashion industry in the past for its wastefulness, Prince Charles praised this tool which could find applications in other sectors including the automotive leather industry: “People have a right to know if what they buy is created sustainably and there is a responsibility to tell them if we truly believe in the shared principles of transparency, accountability and enforcement.”

      Pledge to end leather use

      Charles’s advocacy of sustainable leather came in stark contrast to the attitude of Stella McCartney whose brand is reported to be using the Digital ID tool. She recently called on delegates and the public at the COP26 environmental summit to sign a pledge to stop using leather and fur in the fashion industry. As a vegetarian and animal rights campaigner, McCartney is a strong proponent of leather alternatives and presented man-made materials such as mycelium while in Glasgow.

      “He wished ‘people knew the value’ of ethically-produced leather in the ‘circular economy’ over plastic or ‘strange spun’ synthetic material.”

      Veganism ≠ Sustainability

      The leather industry was fast to spot some double standards here and COTANCE issued an open letter calling her out. While recognising the validity of her vegan beliefs they question whether her call during COP26 for leather to be cancelled in the fashion industry would be good for the environment by saying: “Promoting this credo at global scale makes no sense and runs counter to the logic of a circular economy”. The letter goes on to point out that “if the leather industry would not recycle the 8 million tonnes of hides and skins that it recovers every year, their decomposition would become a sanitary risk and release some 5 million tonnes of GHG”. That figure, incidentally, doesn’t even include the carbon emissions that the production of other materials would necessarily generate. Ultimately, they say, “promoting [the end of leather] only leads to generating pollution”.

      Once again, the spat goes to show that veganism is not the same as sustainability. The fact that most alternatives to leather require the use of plastics to give them structure means that they are actually the very opposite of sustainable.

      Leather traceability

      While the leather industry may not see eye to eye with Stella McCartney on the use of leather, the idea of adding transparency to the supply chain through tools like Digital ID is something both can agree on. Industry commentator Mike Redwood was calling for this back in 2020 when he said, “following hides and skins back to source should not be impossible”. One 4 Leather has also reported on efforts being made by leather manufacturers to introduce just the kind of scrutiny that Digital ID is designed for, quoting Tatiana Shanina as saying that “some manufacturers source directly from slaughterhouses and can, therefore, trace their leather back to the animal”. Shanina also highlights the work done by the Leather Working Group who, she says, “is working with industry stakeholders to encourage and establish benchmarks for more responsible and transparent leather production”. The article goes on to summarise various ways – both hi-tech and low tech – that the leather industry is taking the issue of traceability seriously.

      Initiatives like these can only help demonstrate that natural, bio-degradable leather is not a problem in terms of sustainability as Stella McCartney’s rather confused stance would suggest. On the contrary, it is part of the solution. Happily, thanks to Prince Charles, sustainable leather production now also seems, at least, to have a royal seal of approval.

      Read full article here

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        Why Genuine Leather Is Just The Ticket For Transport

        In Article5 Minutes

        Month: January 2022

        Leather Naturally reports that a Scottish leather company called Muirhead recently refurbished 234 rail carriages for Irish Rail by re-covering 15,500 train seats with genuine leather. It is a reminder that leather is (quite literally) the natural choice for all kinds of transportation applications – including car interior leather – thanks to its unique properties.

        Leather seats make business sense

        Leather is sometimes thought of as a ‘luxury’ option. Indeed, Peter Smyth, Irish Rail’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, says that when the seats were first unveiled to the public, passengers would ask the guards to check their tickets because they thought they were in first class! It is true that leather does have a feel of supreme comfort and luxury but what this story shows is that car manufacturers are missing out on real commercial benefits by not using automotive leather. In line with the general move toward ‘decontenting’, fabric might seem like an easy option but, it turns out to be a false economy in the end – and it is their customers who must ultimately pick up the bill. (With thanks to our friends at Leather Naturally for the original article.)

        Peter Smyth, Irish Rail’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, says that when the seats were first unveiled to the public, passengers would ask the guards to check their tickets because they thought they were in first class!

        Veganism ≠ Sustainability

        The leather industry was fast to spot some double standards here and COTANCE issued an open letter calling her out. While recognising the validity of her vegan beliefs they question whether her call during COP26 for leather to be cancelled in the fashion industry would be good for the environment by saying: “Promoting this credo at global scale makes no sense and runs counter to the logic of a circular economy”. The letter goes on to point out that “if the leather industry would not recycle the 8 million tonnes of hides and skins that it recovers every year, their decomposition would become a sanitary risk and release some 5 million tonnes of GHG”. That figure, incidentally, doesn’t even include the carbon emissions that the production of other materials would necessarily generate. Ultimately, they say, “promoting [the end of leather] only leads to generating pollution”.

        Once again, the spat goes to show that veganism is not the same as sustainability. The fact that most alternatives to leather require the use of plastics to give them structure means that they are actually the very opposite of sustainable.

        Leather traceability

        While the leather industry may not see eye to eye with Stella McCartney on the use of leather, the idea of adding transparency to the supply chain through tools like Digital ID is something both can agree on. Industry commentator Mike Redwood was calling for this back in 2020 when he said, “following hides and skins back to source should not be impossible”. One 4 Leather has also reported on efforts being made by leather manufacturers to introduce just the kind of scrutiny that Digital ID is designed for, quoting Tatiana Shanina as saying that “some manufacturers source directly from slaughterhouses and can, therefore, trace their leather back to the animal”. Shanina also highlights the work done by the Leather Working Group who, she says, “is working with industry stakeholders to encourage and establish benchmarks for more responsible and transparent leather production”. The article goes on to summarise various ways – both hi-tech and low tech – that the leather industry is taking the issue of traceability seriously.

        Initiatives like these can only help demonstrate that natural, bio-degradable leather is not a problem in terms of sustainability as Stella McCartney’s rather confused stance would suggest. On the contrary, it is part of the solution. Happily, thanks to Prince Charles, sustainable leather production now also seems, at least, to have a royal seal of approval.

        Read full article here

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