Incredible New Material Discovered

In Article5 Minutes

Article

Imagine if we only discovered leather today for the first time. How do you think the story would read, maybe something like this….

Breaking News: A ground-breaking natural material, dubbed ‘leather,’ has been discovered. Labelled as a saviour for our planet, this versatile substance is set to revolutionise many industries. From car seats to clothing, furniture to footwear, ‘leather’ is poised to replace fossil-based synthetic materials, thereby significantly reducing our carbon footprint and environmental damage.

Little is known about this new discovery just now, but the team who made the breakthrough have stated they will be very transparent in the coming months and have declared they will make the science behind producing ‘leather’ available to everyone as the sooner the world can stop making plastic composite materials, the better it will be.

So, what do we know about leather? In a first-seen report from the team, these are the details:

It’s made from a by-product

Remarkably, ‘leather’ comes from meat and dairy cattle hides and is classed as a by-product. Whilst the world has been eating meat, drinking milk and benefitting from the protein this provides, all the hides that have been discarded now have a home.

It's safe to say the world will be a better, healthier, and more stylish place to live when we all have ‘leather’ in our homes, wardrobes, and car interiors.

It’s natural and bio-based

‘Leather’ is a natural material with a biogenic carbon content of over 80%, and the team is confident that this will be close to 100% in the next few years.

It reduces landfill and, therefore, Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Up until now, all these cattle hides (roughly 331 million per year) have been going to landfills, creating earth-shattering amounts of GHG. Early calculations by the team show that if the automotive industry adopts ‘leather’ for car interiors, it will save 644 million kg CO2e per year, and that’s without the savings of not producing the plastic composite materials they are currently using, which could more than double this figure.

It’s part of the circular economy

Everything is used, and nothing is wasted that we now we can make ‘leather’ from the hides. Upon reaching the end of its life, ‘leather’ can be composted to enrich the soil. This, in turn, nurtures grass growth, providing sustenance for the cows that initiate this regenerative cycle all over again.

It’s so versatile

It would seem there are so many uses for ‘leather’, and small tweaks in how it is made can result in different types and finishes. We’re told they can make leather any colour you want; they can digitally print on it to make fabulous designs; embossing the surface can produce consistent finishes, allowing hides with scars or insect bites to be used, instead of thrown away; quilting and perforations can be added to bring modern design ideas, and we’re hearing they have experimented putting electronics and buttons behind leather in car dashboards.

It’s a high-performing material

Tests show that leather is very durable and will last for decades with very simple maintenance. It also is breathable and adjusts to body temperature, making it comfortable to wear and sit on during long journeys in a car. ‘Leather’ is naturally flame retardant, unlike the plastic composite materials we are used to. Until now, we have been used to having to throw away and replace our plastic composite clothes; this will become a thing of the past. And no more trips to the car shop to get our seats recovered every 2 or 3 years as we’re told if we damage ‘leather’, it can be repaired!

As we learn more from the team, who are currently sending out samples for us all to try, we will bring it to you. But it’s safe to say the world will be a better, healthier, and more stylish place to live when we all have ‘leather’ in our homes, wardrobes, and car interiors.

Wow – what a story that would make.

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    The Plastic Elephant In The Room

    In Article5 Minutes

    Article

    Fashion trends and automotive interior design have been inextricably linked for decades, and the colours, materials and finishes we see on catwalks are often echoed in the latest car launches. A recent trend in fashion has been the introduction of ‘vegan leather’, bringing animal-free material that looks like leather to the masses. The media hype has taken this and made it seem like the planet's saviour, but recently, people are starting to understand the truth: it's made from plastic.

    Fast fashion has fully adopted vegan leather, and with good reason: it’s relatively inexpensive to make and can be sold as a premium product; it’s been given a thumbs up by certain fashion designers as being cruelty-free; the marketers come up with some fancy name but forget to inform you of the harm it’s doing to the planet.

    A report published by Consumption Research Norway (SIFO)* looks at understanding the growth in clothing and textile production, the plastification of these materials and the related environmental impacts (the plastic elephant in the room). Part of the report’s findings is that there are no clear strategies for reducing synthetic fibres or measures to halt plastification.

    Recently, the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) has highlighted new data showing that crude oil products have a significantly higher CO2 footprint than previously calculated. The latest updates to the Swiss ecoinvent database have rectified the discrepancies with revised data for fossil raw materials and plastics. Germany-based Nova Institute analysed the effect of these updates, and results show the carbon footprint of fossil naphtha rose by 107% whilst PE saw an increase of 34%, PP of 30%, and PET of 26%**.

    The consequence of making “vegan leather” is creating a new linear material with a high percentage of plastic. Whether it’s virgin plastic or recycled, the impact on the planet from producing plastic is significant. These alternative leather materials are shown to have limited performance and, therefore, a reduced life span. These composite materials can’t be recycled and will inevitably end up in landfill, where it will take hundreds of years to decompose and release toxins and greenhouse gases into our land and oceans.

    The consequence of making “vegan leather” is creating a new linear material with a high percentage of plastic. Whether it's virgin plastic or recycled, the impact on the planet from producing plastic is significant.

    Leather is part of the circular economy, where every part of the cow is used, and nothing is wasted. The hides are upcycled into leather, a natural material with a biogenic carbon count of over 80%. Leather is naturally biodegradable; upon reaching its end of life, it can be composted to enrich the soil. This, in turn, nurtures the growth of grass, providing sustenance for the very cows that initiate this regenerative cycle all over again.

    Leather is naturally biodegradable. A rawhide will decompose quickly, and a tanned hide will take 10 to 50 years, depending on how it is processed. When you compare this to ‘vegan leather’, it’s a fraction of the time. With no current viable option but landfill, these plastic and fossil-fuel-based synthetics will still be around in 500 – 1,000 years, emitting dangerous gases and microplastics that are harmful to the environment and human health.

    In recent years, automotive tanneries have invested heavily in ensuring that leather is produced more sustainably and environmentally friendly, reducing carbon emissions. Current developments in sustainable tanning and finishing reduce the time it takes to biodegrade or turn into compost, further lessening the impact on the planet.

    With the recent EU vote for anti-greenwashing laws by an overwhelming majority, which will ban the use of environmentally friendly claims without proof, it will change how products are labelled, prevent unfounded durability claims, and stop companies trying to kid on that products made with plastic are ok because trees were planted to offset the carbon.

    With these new data and reports, increased knowledge of the harm plastics pose to our planet and upcoming greenwashing legislation, surely it’s time to eliminate the plastic elephant in the room and expand the use of natural, circular products such as genuine automotive leather.

    Reference And Sources Used
    * https://bit.ly/3SMd4t6

    ** https://bit.ly/48rpTz7

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      The Consequence Of Displacing Automotive Leather

      In Article, Fact3 Minutes

      Article

      With the recent EU vote for anti-greenwashing laws by an overwhelming majority, which will ban the use of environmentally friendly claims without proof, it will change how products are labelled, prevent unfounded durability claims, and stop companies trying to kid on that products made with plastic are ok because trees were planted to offset the carbon.

      What does this mean for automotive leather? Companies that make “vegan leather” will be required by law to stop making unsubstantiated claims about the green credentials of these materials. As reported by the Filk Institute, none of the leather alternative materials they tested perform anything like genuine leather regarding durability, cracking strength and tear resistance, and none of the tested substitutes could truly be called an “alternative” for leather.

      At the same time these new laws are coming into place, the leather industry is working hard to produce accurate Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and to understand the impact leather has on the planet. More is being understood about Consequential LCA and system expansion with avoided processes and products. Hides are a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, and processing them into automotive leather displaces the need to create alternative “vegan-leather” materials.

      Companies that make “vegan leather” will be required by law to stop making unsubstantiated claims about the green credentials of these materials

      The consequence of making “vegan leather” is we are creating a new material that has a high percentage of plastic included. No matter whether it’s virgin plastic or recycled, the impact on the planet from producing plastic is significant. These alternative leather materials are shown to have limited performance and, therefore, a reduced life span. These composite materials can’t be recycled and will inevitably end up in landfill, where it will take hundreds of years to decompose and release toxins and greenhouse gases into our land and oceans.

      Let’s not forget the consequence when we displace automotive leather with a product that can be avoided; the cattle hides left over from the meat and dairy industry will also need to be disposed of, releasing millions of tonnes of additional and unnecessary CO2e, creating a double whammy for the environment.

      Indeed, this must raise questions as to why we would create new materials to displace genuine automotive leather, which we want to perform like leather but is ultimately harmful to the planet.

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        Fact or Fiction: More water is used to make genuine automotive leather

        In Article, Fact3 Minutes

        Article

        Water is one of the world's most important elements and is crucial in the production of genuine automotive leather, and its use and reduction are something the automotive tanneries take very seriously. Water usage has reduced significantly in the past few decades*, and the latest innovations will see this reduce further, lessening their impact on the planet.

        It takes an average of 121 litres of water** to make 1m2 of finished automotive leather. A finished UK hide is, on average, 4.1m2 and weighs 3.7kg***, giving us a figure of 109 litres of water used to make 1kg of finished automotive leather. Please read this earlier article which lays out how and where the water is used during production.

        Let’s review this against “vegan leather”, often quoted online and in the media as a more sustainable alternative to genuine leather. A large proportion of vegan leather contains a high percentage of plastic (PU, PVC and rPET), which is used to bond plant-based materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, etc, to produce this artificial material.

        Water is one of the world's most important elements and is crucial in the production of genuine automotive leather, and its use and reduction are something the automotive tanneries take very seriously.

        Water is used at each phase of the plastic life cycle, from the extraction of oil or natural gas to the various steps involved in producing the resins that eventually give rise to different types of plastic. The total water footprint calculates the entire volume of freshwater consumed during the entire production process. It is important to include both the “blue” and “grey” components when calculating this. The blue water footprint encompasses water consumption during drilling, refining, and manufacturing, while the grey water footprint takes into account the water needed to mitigate pollution during the production process.

        If we take the production of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) as an example, the blue water footprint is quoted**** as 10 litres per kg, but when you add the grey water footprint, it rises to 235 litres per kg.

        Some leather alternatives now claim to use rPET, and water is also heavily used in the recycling of plastic, as well as in the production process of the finished material. When you add these all together, the water required to make this leather alternative is two to three times that of genuine automotive leather, clearly showing why it’s a more sustainable choice for your car interior.

        Reference And Sources Used
        * https://sustainfashion.info/water-in-leather-production-the-incredible-shrinking-act/

        ** www.cotance.com/doc/SER/European%20Leather%20Industry%20-%20Social%20and%20Environmental%20Report%202020%20-%20EN%20web.pdf

        *** FAO Global compendium on conversion factors for raw hides and skins and leather using UK statistics

        **** https://foodprint.org/blog/plastic-water-bottle/

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          5 Reasons Why Leather Car Interiors Are the Sustainable Choice

          In Article7 Minutes

          Article

          As a global collective, we are all focused on how we can reduce carbon emissions and our impact on the planet for current and future generations. Reducing the use of fossil fuels and reducing our reliance on them is critical, and the textile industry needs to play a big part in this.

          Leather manufacturing has been featured in the press and self-serving websites in the last few years about how detrimental it is to the planet, but how accurate are these statements, and how many are myths with hidden agendas? Here are five good reasons to question what you’re led to believe.

          1. Leather is upcycled from a waste product.

          • Leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, confirmed by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) in 2022. The farmer receives just 1%-2% of the total value of the cattle from their hides, which indicates that cattle are not raised to make leather, it wouldn’t be financially viable.
          • If animal hides weren’t used to make leather, they would be sent to landfills where they would rot and emit CO2. If the automotive industry stopped using leather in cars, an extra 644 million kg of CO2e would be emitted annually. Still, if they increased the use of leather in cars by just 10%, it would prevent 3.5 million hides from landfills, saving over 64 million kg of CO2

          2. Using leather in cars prevents harmful virgin materials from being created

          • Whilst the current demand for meat and dairy continues, there will always be cattle hides that we can use or discard. Using leather, an upcycled natural by-product, in a car interior is better for the planet than manufacturing a new leather alternative material.
          • Synthetic alternatives to traditional leather, often called ‘Vegan Leather,’ primarily consist of artificial materials, typically comprising approximately 80-90% polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for binding. Some manufacturers of these alternatives engage in greenwashing; some claim to use recycled PET (rPET) and present it as environmentally friendly. The reality is that new virgin plastic needs to be produced to replace this to make new bottles, packaging, etc.1, resulting in the extraction of more fossil fuels from the earth, producing large amounts of CO2e that damage the planet. Why create a new, harmful product when a more sustainable, natural alternative exists?

          Leather is part of a circular process where everything can be used, repurposed, or recycled. PU/PVC-based composite materials, often mixed with fruit or vegetables like pineapple or mushrooms, are part of a linear process as it's extremely difficult and expensive to recycle once discarded, so they are destined for landfill.

          3. Leather is part of the circular economy

          • Leather is part of the circular economy, where every part of the cow is used, and nothing is wasted. The hides are upcycled into leather, a natural material with a biogenic carbon count of over 80%. Upon reaching the end of its life, it can be composted to enrich the soil. This, in turn, nurtures grass growth, providing sustenance for the cows that initiate this regenerative cycle all over again.
          • Compare this to most new plastic and fossil-fuel-based leather alternatives that are linear. Commonly, a plant-based material, like mushrooms or pineapple husks, is mixed with fossil fuels like PU or PVC (in the region of 80 – 90% of the total) to create a composite material. There is no simple or cost-effective way to recycle these products, so they end up in landfill, a “Take, Make, Waste” approach with a tangible impact on the planet. However, we are led to believe that they are more sustainable.

          4. Leather has a long lifespan

          • Fast fashion has become increasingly popular in society, but more and more people are understanding that ‘buy once, buy well’ is a more sustainable approach and better for the planet.
          • Automotive leather, which is simple and cheap to maintain, will last decades, still look and perform great, and have a lower environmental cost-per-use impact throughout its lifetime. Most ‘vegan leather’, on the other hand, is likely to have a much shorter lifespan before it cracks and peels and needs replacing, usually with PU/PVC covers made from harmful petrochemical-based products.
          • There have been high-profile cases in the media of car owners reporting significant issues with ‘vegan leather interiors’, which bubble and blister after short periods. These materials do not have the performance, durability, and lifespan of genuine leather and will likely need replacing during the car’s expected lifespan.

          5.Leather reduces the impact on the planet

          • Ocean plastic pollution has highlighted how important it is that materials can degrade back into the natural environment.
          • Leather is naturally biodegradable. A rawhide will decompose quickly, and a tanned hide will take 10 to 50 years, depending on how it is processed. When you compare this to ‘vegan leather’, it’s a fraction of the time. With no current viable option but landfill, these plastic and fossil-fuel-based synthetics will still be around in 500 – 1,000 years, emitting dangerous gases and microplastics that are harmful to the environment and human health.
          • In recent years, automotive tanneries have invested heavily in ensuring leather is produced more sustainably and environmentally friendly, reducing the carbon impact. Current developments in sustainable tanning and finishing reduce the time it takes to biodegrade or turn into compost, further lessening the impact on the planet.

          1 https://www.packaginginsights.com/news/fabricating-the-loop-how-fashion-disrupts-the-circular-plastics-economy-and-what-the-eu-must-do.html

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            Leather Car Interiors Are Benefitting The Planet

            In Article5 Minutes

            Article

            We believe that using leather in cars benefits the planet, and here’s why. If the automotive industry stopped using leather altogether, 35 million hides would go to landfill, meaning an extra 644 million kg of CO2e would be emitted annually. That’s the same as driving an average internal combustion engine car 6.4 billion km* or driving Route 66 over 1.6 million times.

            Leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, as confirmed by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF)**; no cattle are bred for hides. Data shows us that 331 million***cattle are processed each year by the meat industry, creating over 2.18 billion m3**** of hides. That’s equivalent to twice the volume of Mount Everest.

            With global beef consumption rising, the leather industry is pivotal as it upcycles hides that would otherwise rot in landfill and emit billions of tonnes of CO2 each year.

            Sources estimate that 40%***** of the 331 million hides (over 3.8 billion kg) go to landfill. That’s equivalent to 6,650 (fully laden) Airbus A380s. Of the remaining 60%, the automotive leather industry takes and processes 18%*****. If laid end-to-end, the hides the automotive industry saves from landfill would wrap around the earth 1.8 times.

            The automotive industry can make a difference to the planet by using more leather in its cars, thus reducing the number of hides going to waste. If the demand for automotive leather increases by just 10%, it would save 3.5 million hides from landfill. That’s a saving of over 64 million kg of CO2e and enough leather for 1.1 million car interiors.

            Car manufacturers are keen to promote greener options to leather in the form of PU and PVC materials. However, most leather alternatives contain more than 80% plastic. It’s the small amount of plant or vegetable (mushroom, pineapple, cactus) content that grabs the headlines. These composite materials are difficult and currently very expensive to recycle, so they will inevitably end up in landfill.

            The automotive industry can make a difference to the planet by using more leather in its cars, thus reducing the number of hides going to waste. If the demand for automotive leather increases by just 10%, it would save 3.5 million hides from landfill. That’s a saving of over 64 million kg of CO2and enough leather for 1.1 million car interiors.

            For more information from One 4 Leather, please contact us or sign up to our newsletter so we can keep you up to date on automotive leather: https://www.one4leather.com/contact

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              How Fashion and Automotive Disrupts the Circular Plastics Economy

              In Article1 Minutes

              Article

              Removing recycled plastic (rPET) from the drinks industry to manufacture composite materials for cars and fashion is not a circular practice, it’s linear, and requires significant virgin material and currently increases waste to landfill.

              Automotive leather by contrast is circular. We take a waste material, a by-product from the meat industry, and upcycle it into a beautiful, luxurious material for use in cars that lasts for decades. It can be repaired or recycled during its life, converted to organic fertiliser or will biodegrade at its end of life.

              Click the link below to read the following article that gives more insights into why using recycled plastics outside the drinks industry is disrupting the circular economy and what is being done to change this.

              Click Here: https://zurl.co/6AKq

              Removing recycled plastic (rPET) from the drinks industry to manufacture composite materials for cars and fashion is not a circular practice, it’s linear, and requires significant virgin material and currently increases waste to landfill

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                COP28 - One 4 Leather joins 28 signatories of the Leather Manifesto

                In Article8 Minutes

                Article

                One 4 Leather is proud to join 28 other signatories calling for greater understanding and integration of natural materials, particularly leather, in addressing the challenges of man-made climate change ahead of COP28 in the UAE.

                The key issues the signatories are once again calling on the COP forum is 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. In particular, recognition of the separate contributions of long-lived, short-lived, and fossil-derived and biogenic greenhouse gases.

                …Wherever feasible to, encourage the use of natural fibres like leather and reduce unnecessary reliance on fossil-fuel-based materials.

                …Support LCA methodologies that accurately account for the environmental impact of all materials, including end-of-life properties and the consequences of use and substitution.

                …Promote ‘slow fashion’, durable products, and items that can be used many times, repaired and refurbished, and last for years.

                Please read the full manifesto below.

                People, lives and livelihoods – the role of leather

                A Manifesto Leather on the occasion of COP28
                People, lives and livelihoods – the role of leather
                On the occasion of the 28th edition of COP, the undersigned once again call for greater understanding and integration of natural materials, and in particular leather, in addressing the challenges of man-made climate change. We welcome the new policy and regulations in France and the Netherlands and proposed legislation in the European Union and United Kingdom, and the growing recognition that the action must be taken to reduce the impact of fashion and textiles. To achieve this goal, there will be ever greater emphasis and legal requirements for repairability, recovery and circularity in design in fashion and textiles.

                These are all areas where natural fibres such as leather, excel. It is quite normal for products made from leather, wool, silk, etc. to be kept by consumers for long periods of time and passed on to subsequent owners. Products made from these materials are long-lived, eminently repairable and can be repurposed or readily composted at end of life. Recent research by Wiedemann et al.1 found that, ‘the climate change impacts of all natural fibres were negative if the number of wears was increased by 50%: that is, greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided entirely primarily because emissions associated with the manufacture of a new petro-PET garment were averted’. Garments made from long-lived, natural materials can have an undeniably positive action in reducing the climate impact of fashion and textiles.

                Leather offers an opportunity to make the best use of the resources available and to do so without diminishing them or causing harm to the environment. There are currently huge volumes of a natural, readily available versatile hides and skins going unused which could be transformed into sustainable leather, replacing fossil fuel-derived synthetic alternatives, with the additional emissions and impacts those entail. In the process, there would be the opportunity to put shoes on over 2.5 billion pairs of feet. That’s 33% of the world’s population that we could provide shoes for.

                We also welcome, within the COP28 themes, a focus on people, lives, and livelihoods. Leather manufacture can create opportunities for employment, wealth generation and security in deprived regions, both directly and in associated industries. There is also a growing body of evidence showing that when the full life cycle is considered, these materials can be positive contributors to the climate and environment It is essential then that appropriate metrics are used to assess the impact of these materials, assessing not just the narrow, attributional impact of their production but also the consequences of their use.

                Natural materials, like leather, offer a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuel-derived synthetics for fashion and other applications. An alternative that meets the demands of emerging policy for circularity in the fashion and textile sector. Greater use of natural materials would create jobs, reduce waste and could be a direct driver of more sustainable agricultural practice. However, this will require a better understanding of the impacts of materials like leather, based on current science and sound data.

                Therefore, we, the undersigned organisations, once again call on the COP 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. In particular, recognition of the separate contributions of long-lived and short-lived, and fossil-derived and biogenic greenhouse gases.

                …Wherever feasible to encourage the use of natural fibres like leather and reduce unnecessary reliance on fossil-fuel-based materials.

                …Support LCA methodologies that accurately account for the environmental impact of all materials, including end of life properties and the consequences of use and substitution.

                …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

                Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI)
                Asociación Española del Curtido (ACEXPIEL – Spanish Tanners’ Association)
                Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Curtumes (APIC – Portugal Tanners’ Association)
                Australian Hide Skin and Leather Exporters’ Association Inc. (AHSLEA)
                Centre for the Brazilian Tanning Industry (CICB)
                Centro Tecnológico das Indústrias do Couro (CTIC – Leather Center in Portugal)
                Chamber of the Argentine Tanning Industry (CICA)
                China Leather Industry Association (CLIA)
                Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE)
                Conseil National du Cuir (CNC)
                International Council of Hides, Skins and Leather Traders Association (ICHSLTA)
                International Council of Tanners (ICT)
                International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS)
                Fédération Française des Cuirs et Peaux (FFCP – French Hides & Skins Association)
                Fédération Française Tannerie Megisserie (FFTM – French Tanners Association)
                Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA)
                Leather Cluster Barcelona (LCB)
                Leather Naturally (LN)
                Leather UK (LUK)
                Leather Working Group (LWG)
                One 4 Leather (O4L)
                Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists (SLTC)
                Sustainable Leather Foundation (SLF)
                Swedish Tanners Association
                Turkish Leather Industrialists Association (TDSD)
                UNIC Concerie Italiane (Italian Tanneries Association)
                Verband der Deutschen Lederindustrie e.V. (VDL – German Leather Federation)
                Wirtschaftsverband Häute/Leder (WHL – German Hide and Leather Association)
                Zimbabwe Leather Development Council (ZLDC)

                Reference And Sources Used
                1 Stephen G. Wiedemann et al, Resources, Conservation and Recycling (2023), Volume 198,

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                  Exploring the legislation in automotive leather manufacturing

                  In Article3 Minutes

                  Article

                  Articles have been written in recent years depicting leather tanneries as dirty pollutants that discharge toxic waste and damage the environment, which is far from the truth. Automotive leather manufacturing must comply with comprehensive regulations, which are essential for ensuring the process is done in a safe and sustainable manner. Leather regulations dictate the quality standards, processes, and safety measures that must be met in the production of leather goods.

                  Depending on the tannery location, the local environmental agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Environment Agency (EEA), and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), all have laws in place that regulate emissions, pollutants, and disposal of wastes. If these rigid standards are not met, and tanneries are seen to be breaking the rules, these local agencies have the power to close down tanneries immediately.

                  As well as the local agencies, there are many ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) standards that leather manufacturers comply with to ensure their products are manufactured in a safe and sustainable way and meet the quality required by their customers. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) – have an agreement on the Technical Barriers to Trade designed to ensure certain standards are met when leather is exported, imported, or traded between countries.

                  Further, leather industry certification schemes such as Leather Working Group (LWG), Sustainable Leather Foundation (SLF), Italian Certification Institute for Leather (ICEC), OEKO-TEX, and others are now an important factor in leather manufacturing and automotive OEMs are requiring tanneries to achieve high-level certificates from one or more of these schemes to be considered as a possible supplier.

                  As well as the local agencies, there are many ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) standards that leather manufacturers comply with to ensure their products are manufactured in a safe and sustainable way and meet the quality required by their customers

                  A brief overview (we will produce a more in-depth article shortly) on the areas these Industry schemes review are as follows:

                  Chemicals

                  • Chemical management
                  • Restricted Substances, Compliance, and Chromium VI (CrVI) Management

                  Environment

                  • Environment Management Systems (EMS)
                  • Air & Noise emissions
                  • Water usage
                  • Waste management
                  • Effluent treatment

                  People

                  • Social audits
                  • Working hours/wages
                  • Occupational Health and Safety
                  • Staff training and development

                  Ethical & Traceability

                  • Animal welfare
                  • Deforestation
                  • Incoming material traceability
                  • Outgoing material traceability

                  Operations

                  • Operations management
                  • Operating permits
                  • Production data
                  • Subcontracted operations

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                    The customer can have any colour they want, as long as it's black

                    In Article3 Minutes

                    Article

                    “The customer can have any colour they want, as long as it's black” is a well-known phrase in automotive folklore, more commonly translated in today’s world as you can have any colour you want as long it's green. The truth is automotive leather companies can make leather in any colour you want. Whether it's for mass production, 20,000 hides a week where every one needs to be made to an exact specification, or if it’s a one-off run for a $3m hypercar. What you want, they can produce.

                    The automotive leather industry pays close attention to the current fashion and automotive trends to ensure they stay current and relevant and promote leather to new generations looking for the ultimate luxury car interiors. The colour of the interior is one of the most important decisions when designing a new car.

                    Colour and finish are the final parts of the leather-making process, where the magic happens. Automotive tanneries have specialist departments with highly skilled, qualified technicians who create the final colour and appearance, ensuring the leather in your car is perfect. It’s more complex than colouring other materials, such as bodywork, as each hide is unique and has its own characteristics, so ensuring colour consistency across a batch takes hard work and years of training.

                    Colour and finish are the final parts of the leather-making process, where the magic happens

                    The process usually starts with the customer sending in a request, whether a Pantone reference or an object to colour-match. Small samples are then made and sent for approval, followed by larger batches to prove consistency. Once the specification is met and production starts, each tannery has a process to check batches and ensure each hide is of the same quality and exact colour to ensure consistency. It is vital to ensure no deviations when making seats, as different panels used on a seat can come from other hides, and any variations would be unacceptable.

                    As well as being able to produce the required colour, the leather must also be made to very exacting technical specifications before it will be used on any car. Testing is carried out on thickness, strength, extensibility, adhesion and flexibility of the coating, abrasion resistance, light fastness, fogging, flammability and more, depending on the unique customer needs. Ensuring the quality and finish will look the same in 10 years or 100,000 miles is paramount.

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