Responsible Water Management Drives Automotive Tanneries

Did you know that the leather on your car seat is not only supremely comfortable but supremely hard-wearing too? From the day-to-day demands of you getting in and out, to occasional food or coffee spillages and even the effects of UV light from the sun, leather outperforms other materials by miles. Take a look at our short video to find out more.


Wear And Tear? No Problem For Genuine Leather!

Did you know that the leather on your car seat is not only supremely comfortable but supremely hard-wearing too? From the day-to-day demands of you getting in and out, to occasional food or coffee spillages and even the effects of UV light from the sun, leather outperforms other materials by miles. Take a look at our short video to find out more.


Rendering And Tanning: The Ultimate Sustainability Processes

In Article6 Minutes

Month: December 2022

Sustainable leather

With a history going back hundreds if not thousands of years, the rendering industry is actually one of the world’s original recyclers. It provides a service that ensures that virtually no part of an animal raised for meat production goes to waste. In the words of Jennifer M Latzke (Editor of the Kansas Farmer), “Rendering finds a sustainable and high-value purpose for every part of the cow but the ‘moo’”. That is not just an economic benefit but has a moral element to it too: waste not want not! Or as Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA) President Stephen Sothmann puts it, “As long as we produce livestock for meat and dairy consumption purposes, animal hides and skins are going to be a natural and inevitable by-product of the process. We, as a society, have an ethical responsibility to use those materials and not be wasteful.” There is a practical argument to this too: Jennifer M Latzke points out that “without the rendering industry, America would fill up every one of its landfills to capacity in just four years”. So, whichever way you look at it, rendering renders us all a great service.

Economic benefits

A useful factsheet from the Sustainability Alliance puts the scale of the effort in proportion. It says, for instance, that “in the US, the hide, skin and leather industry was able to make use of more than 30 million cattle hides in 2016, resulting in nearly 908,000 tonnes and €36.4 million saved in waste management in just one year”. Processing is also becoming more environmentally friendly thanks to renewable tanning chemicals, along with reduced water consumption and salt usage.

Both rendering and tanning make use of by-products that would otherwise be wasted. Products of the rendering industry include pet food, animal feed and cosmetics. According to an article by the Sustainability Alliance in the USA, “the rendering and leather industries come into their own in ways that reduce environmental impact, benefit the economy and are, most probably, the ultimate in sustainability”.

Sustainable leather.
With a history going back hundreds if not thousands of years, the rendering industry is actually one of the world’s original recyclers. It provides a service that ensures that virtually no part of an animal raised for meat production goes to waste. In the words of Jennifer M Latzke (Editor of the Kansas Farmer), “Rendering finds a sustainable and high-value purpose for every part of the cow but the ‘moo’”. That is not just an economic benefit but has a moral element to it too: waste not want not! Or as Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA) President Stephen Sothmann puts it, “As long as we produce livestock for meat and dairy consumption purposes, animal hides and skins are going to be a natural and inevitable by-product of the process. We, as a society, have an ethical responsibility to use those materials and not be wasteful.” There is a practical argument to this too: Jennifer M Latzke points out that “without the rendering industry, America would fill up every one of its landfills to capacity in just four years”. So, whichever way you look at it, rendering renders us all a great service.

Economic benefits.
A useful factsheet from the Sustainability Alliance puts the scale of the effort in proportion. It says, for instance, that “in the US, the hide, skin and leather industry was able to make use of more than 30 million cattle hides in 2016, resulting in nearly 908,000 tonnes and €36.4 million saved in waste management in just one year”. Processing is also becoming more environmentally friendly thanks to renewable tanning chemicals, along with reduced water consumption and salt usage.

As long as we produce livestock for meat and dairy consumption purposes, animal hides and skins are going to be a natural and inevitable by-product of the process

Less sustainable alternatives 

As we have reported before “rendering of by-products is part of the animal’s full lifecycle, which starts at the farm. It is a sign of respect to use everything and not just let it go to waste.” Those advocating alternatives for leather tend to overlook this as well as the environmental impacts of not using the available hides. The alternatives they propose are often plastic-based and dependant on a non-renewal resource like oil. In addition, those plastics do not bio-degrade and so will present an environmental risk for thousands of years to come.

The ultimate form of recycling 

The rendering and leather industries are the original recyclers. Today, as sustainability becomes the by-word of the modern era and we all make efforts in our everyday lives to behave more responsibly in terms of our consumption, it’s high time leather, in particular, was recognised as being the ultimate form of recycling.

Read the full article here

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    Plastics And Toxins In Leather Alternatives

    In Article5 Minutes

    Month: December 2022

    In an article that will come as no surprise to visitors to this site, HowCork has published a blog stating that “some plant-based leathers might not be so eco-friendly after all”.

    HowCork, which describes itself as an “online store dedicated to promoting sustainability and conscience in the world of fashion”, poses the question “Are plant-based vegan leather manufacturers telling the whole truth about how their materials are made?”, and goes on to take the lid off some of the most well-known plant based materials which claim to be alternatives to genuine leather. The answer to their question: yes, manufacturers are definitely NOT telling the whole truth about their vegan products.

    Cactus leather is mostly plastic

    Take ‘cactus leather’ for example. It sounds like it’s just made of cactus but, according to HowCork’s research, “the main ingredient in Desserto cactus leather is polyurethane”. In fact cactus makes up only 30% of the material by weight. As we have reported before, many plant-based materials depend on plastics to help with their performance – it’s literally what holds them together. So while calling something ‘cactus leather’ sounds very green, it is in fact far from the truth.

    “Contains five restricted substances including butanone oxime, toluene, free isocyanate, an organic pesticide called folpet and traces of a phthalate plasticiser”.

    ‘Partially biodegradable’? That’s just greenwashing

    Worst of all, the article states that “the polyurethane content in the material cannot be separated from the plant material” so it cannot be disposed of in a responsible and sustainable way. While the cactus elements may biodegrade the plastic elements will be around for thousands of years. As HowCork puts it, the phrase “partially biodegradable” is simply greenwashing.

    ‘Partially biodegradable’? That’s just greenwashing

    Worst of all, the article states that “the polyurethane content in the material cannot be separated from the plant material” so it cannot be disposed of in a responsible and sustainable way. While the cactus elements may biodegrade the plastic elements will be around for thousands of years. As HowCork puts it, the phrase “partially biodegradable” is simply greenwashing.

    Unsustainable and containing toxins. But still vegan 

    To add insult to injury, not only was Desserto found to be plastic-based, but it is also said to “contain five restricted substances including butanone oxime, toluene, free isocyanate, an organic pesticide called folpet and traces of a phthalate plasticiser”. It’s fascinating to note that while a material can contain all these toxins and all that plastic, it is still ‘vegan’. Once again, people need to be made aware that ‘vegan’ in no way automatically means ‘sustainable’ – and, very often, it means quite the opposite.

    The article calls for honesty in the promotion and marketing of all materials and we at One4Leather could not agree more. Given a level playing field, genuine leather will consistently outperform synthetic alternatives in terms of both performance and sustainability.

    Read the full article here

    To add insult to injury, not only was Desserto found to be plastic-based, but it is also said to “contain five restricted substances including butanone oxime, toluene, free isocyanate, an organic pesticide called folpet and traces of a phthalate plasticiser”. It’s fascinating to note that while a material can contain all these toxins and all that plastic, it is still ‘vegan’. Once again, people need to be made aware that ‘vegan’ in no way automatically means ‘sustainable’ – and, very often, it means quite the opposite.

    The article calls for honesty in the promotion and marketing of all materials and we at One4Leather could not agree more. Given a level playing field, genuine leather will consistently outperform synthetic alternatives in terms of both performance and sustainability.

    Read the full article here

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      Leather Remains Popular Despite More Interior Options Being Offered

      In Article6 Minutes

      Month: December 2022

      An article in Auto Express gives a handy overview of the different interior options major car manufacturers are currently offering. What is most interesting is that the vast majority of manufacturers surveyed continue to offer leather either as standard or as an option.

      It’s easy to get the impression that leather is being ‘cancelled’ across the board, but this is very far from the truth. It remains the number one choice for many – and with good reason. What’s more, as tanneries across Europe are making stringent efforts to minimise the environmental impact of leather making, some manufacturers are going even further by championing the use of leather tanned with natural olive-leaf extract – normally a waste product. Ironically, this is in contrast to the plethora of synthetic interior materials being offered which – despite their ‘green’ image – are invariably questionable in terms of sustainability.

      Vegan alternatives for leather

      According to the article, the ‘vegan’ options being offered fall into three main categories:

      1. Generic so-called ‘synthetic/artificial leather’ products such as Ultrasuede, microfibre, vinyl or textiles.
      2. Materials using recycled plastic (e.g. PET bottles)
      3. Brand new proprietary materials (e.g. Alcantara as used by Bentley and Ferrari among others)

      1. Generic ‘imitation leather’ products

      Some companies use synthetic leather substitutes such as the microfiber material called Ultrasuede. Typically microfibre materials contain man-made plastics including polyester and polyurethane which will not degrade at the end of their useful life making them a potential cause of long-term environmental pollution. Various manufacturers offer such polyurethane-based ‘vegan leather’ but, as we have mentioned before, being vegan-friendly does not automatically mean being environmentally-friendly.

      2. Materials using recycled plastic 

      Other manufacturers are taking a different approach to material choice. The options they offer include materials that feature recycled plastic such as ‘Sequal’ which is based on re-using plastic waste from the oceans. Another route is to use recycled polyethersulfone (PES) to make interiors, while Race-Tex is advertised as “a high-quality microfibre material partially consisting of recycled polyester fibres.” Last but not least, there’s Econyl fabric which is based on recycled nylon.

      Without a doubt it is good to recycle plastic as a way of preventing it from polluting the environment – and it makes a great ‘green’ story for a brand to tell. But ultimately, plastic is plastic, and the question remains: What happens to these materials at the end of their useful life? Being incorporated into a composite product they are likely to be very difficult to extract and isolate when the material is thrown away and so could end up in the environment (e.g. landfill or as incinerated waste) after all.

      Various manufacturers offer such polyurethane-based ‘vegan leather’ but, as we have mentioned before, being vegan-friendly does not automatically mean being environmentally-friendly.

      3. Brand new proprietary materials

      ‘Alcantara’ is described by Fashion Network as “the first fully sustainable ‘Made in Italy’ brand” and it is used by some prestigious car makers. According to the Alcantara website, “Alcantara S.p.A. pays extreme attention to utilize recycled polyester produced in Europe by post consumers scraps, recycled through a mechanical process, being traceable and certificated”, and it has an extensive programme to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions, offsetting residual emissions through certified and verified offsetting projects”. As mentioned above, recycling plastic is good up to a point, but at some stage it is still likely to end up back in the environment.

      Dinamica microsuede is a similar material option. But Forbes Magazine reports that Alcantara recently won a court case against the company, accusing it of ‘greenwashing’. It is perhaps a reminder that we should take all claims about sustainability in car interior materials with a pinch of salt.

      Other proprietary materials include Sensico which is described as a “synthetic non-animal based premium upholstery”. According to bmwexpert.net, Sensatec is “a vinyl-based type of leather… made from materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), or polyester microfibers”. Grain is added to make it more natural leather looking but it’s unlikely to meet all of the performance characteristics of leather.

      One 4 Leather is happy to be quoted at the end of the article which reminds readers that “no animal is killed for your car seat”, and that leather is simply a great (and sustainable) way to use a waste product from the meat industry. As a natural product, it is completely biodegradable and far more sustainable in terms of a cradle to grave analysis than almost all the other options being offered by car manufacturers. At the end of the day, however, we encourage people to come to their own conclusions and to make their own decisions about their car interior, and articles like this are vital to give everyone the facts they need.

      Read the full article here

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