Leather. The Ultimate Upcycled Material

In Article, Fact7 Minutes

Article

Increasingly, our daily actions significantly influence our planet, necessitating collective efforts to reduce this impact. Choices related to our holiday destinations, our choice of vehicles, our clothing preferences, and our dietary habits all play a part. The global demand for beef is rising and is expected to continue growing in the coming decade and beyond. Consequently, the generation of non-meat components, such as animal hides, is also on the rise. Without the leather industry, this waste component would find its way to landfills, decomposing and emitting methane gas.

Leather has been produced for thousands of years, with the earliest examples of leatherworking tools dating back to 5,000 BC. Leather, renowned for its timeless beauty and remarkable durability, embodies the ethos of “buy once, buy well”. Over the last few years, billions have been spent trying to invent lower-cost alternative “fast fashion” materials to look like leather ($450m in 2022 alone), with most of these materials heavily reliant on fossil fuels like PU or PVC to make them. One might question why such significant resources are allocated to reinventing something that already exists.

These new materials have been labelled as planet-saving alternatives to leather when the truth is the opposite. 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 has an exceptional lifespan, boasts remarkable durability and easy repairability, and upon reaching the end of its 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 has been produced for thousands of years, with the earliest examples of leatherworking tools dating back to 5,000 BC. Leather, renowned for its timeless beauty and remarkable durability, embodies the ethos of "buy once, buy well”

Compare this to most new 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 landfills, a “Take, Make, Waste” approach with a tangible impact on the planet, but we are led to believe they are more sustainable. It’s virtually impossible to find any mention of it containing PU or PVC or the percentages contained in the materials as the marketing teams ‘greenwash’ the credentials found on websites or labels.

In 2022, the Market Institute at the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) claimed “Leather is entirely a by-product of the beef and dairy industries”, with the farmer receiving between 1-2% of the total value of the cow from its hide, yet leather must take an unfairly large portion of the CO2 impact of downstream farming when calculating its carbon footprint. Compare this to ‘vegan leather’, where the heavy impact of adding plastics and micro-plastics to an already polluted planet is not taken into account in the CO2 calculations. We need to take a look at the whole impact and not just a single number often taken out of context.

When we consider the “cost per use” comparison between leather and alternative materials, it becomes clear that leather outlasts the rest, retaining its quality and functionality while others need to be discarded and replaced. This enduring performance gives leather a substantial edge in terms of sustainability credentials.

The ’fast fashion’ materials have come under fire recently, with government watchdogs and mass torts calling out the greenwashing of the sustainability of these materials. There have been, and continue to be, demands to protect the consumer from deceptively calling alternative materials “leather”.

The influential rating system, the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), was launched by a group of fashion industry heavyweights and maintained by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. They introduced a suite of tools created for the fashion industry to assess the sustainability of the materials used in their products. They have been said to strongly favour synthetic materials made from fossil fuels over natural ones like leather, cotton, or wool. The consumer portion of the MSI was suspended following a legal challenge to review the figures and get more accurate data independently, something the leather industry has collectively been calling on for a long time.

Many are unaware of the remarkable advancements in automotive leather manufacturing over the past 25 years. Today’s automotive tanneries operate under strict regulations, utilising cutting-edge machinery to drastically reduce water and energy consumption, an area that has historically faced criticism, albeit wrongly. Furthermore, there’s a notable shift in the use of tanning chemicals, with tanneries actively exploring options incorporating higher or entirely biobased content. This transition aims to diminish their carbon footprint further while maintaining the performance standards demanded by automotive OEMs.

So, when choosing a material for the interior of cars, should we select a fossil fuel-derived product that will end up in landfill or a natural, beautiful, circular by-product destined for landfill? The choice should be yours.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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


    5 ways to tell if it's real automotive leather in your car

    In Article3 Minutes

    Article

    When considering the purchase of a new or used car, there are many checks required to ensure you are getting your perfect car at the right price. An important thing to know is what the seat covers are made from. If you’re paying a premium to have real automotive leather, how can you tell if you are getting the genuine material or if it's fake leather?

    Imitation leather, known as pleather or vegan leather, has advanced to closely resemble genuine leather, making it challenging to distinguish between the two. However, here are five valuable tips to assist you in making an informed decision.

    1. What is the material called?

    • Real automotive leather will feature names like full-grain, Nappa or semi-aniline.
    • Fake leather will have more technical names and often contain words like luxe, ultra, tec, tech or tex.
    • If it doesn’t say, ask the seller. If it sounds natural or genuine, chances are it’s real leather.

    2. How does it smell?

    • Real leather has a unique and memorable pleasant smell that is often described as natural or earthy.
    • Fake leather with an artificial, chemical, or plastic odour will not smell as nice to most of us.
    • As hard as they may try, fake leather can’t replicate the distinct smell of real leather.

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

    3. How does it feel?

    • If you touch and feel real leather, it will be soft, stretchy, and likely wrinkle and will feel warm to the touch.
    • Fake leather, on the other hand, will feel stiff and rigid and be cold to the touch.

    4. What does it look like?

    • No two pieces or real leather will ever be the same as leather is a natural material with natural characteristics and grain, with a distinctive look.
    • Fake leather is very uniform, often created to try and look natural, but the characteristics are synthetically created and very symmetrical.

    5. Does it absorb water?

    • Leather is a natural material that will help wick heat and sweat away from the body. Leather will absorb water on its surface, making for a more relaxing ride.
    • Fake leather is normally impermeable and will repel water that pools on the surface, leading to an uncomfortable journey.
    • Place a drop of water on the surface and see what happens.

    When it comes down to it, our best advice is to trust your senses, they will usually steer you to the right conclusion.

    Subscribe to our newsletter

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


      5 Reasons To Choose Real Automotive Leather For Your Car

      In Article, Fact7 Minutes

      Article

      Purchasing a new car is an involved, emotive experience for most of us, and there are many choices we must make along the way before our purchase is finalised, and some can be hard or confusing.

      What brand? Electric, hybrid or ICE? What exterior paint colour? Which of the many accessory packs on offer do you select? There are so many choices, which can be overwhelming, so this article can hopefully help with one of your choices on interior materials and why leather is the best for your seats, steering wheel, and trim.

      1. Leather is a durable material.

      Performance automotive leather is high quality and made to last and, in most cases, will last longer than the car; many classic cars still have the original leather interior that was fitted decades previously.

      Interiors are subjected to many external factors during use, such as people sitting on them, getting in and out, sweat from our hands on the steering wheel, high/low temperatures, sunlight, staining and soiling. Automotive leather manufacturers must produce products to meet the exacting standards of the OEMs to ensure leather can withstand all these factors and more and look as good as it did on day one.

      Compare this to the new wave of alternative materials, often called ‘vegan leather’ (a term to greenwash their credentials). Many of these materials do not have the durability of real leather and deteriorate when exposed to these same factors. There are now studies, such as the FILK report1, that prove leather’s durability, and there are increasing stories on the internet2 of consumers who have major issues with their interiors after just a couple of years of use.

      2. Leather is easy to maintain.

      Very little is needed to be done to keep automotive leather looking fantastic. Its anti-soiling properties mean a spilt coffee, muddy dogs or children’s snacks won’t stain, smell, or ruin your seats.

      Post-pandemic, the easy nature of being able to kill bugs and viruses with a simple wipe is very reassuring; some companies now offer anti-viral finishes doing the job for you. Leather doesn’t trap pollen or dust, making it ideal for people who suffer from allergies.

      Regularly vacuuming the seats and wiping them with a damp, light soap solution will keep them clean and fresh, and once or twice a year, use an approved conditioner to ensure they remain in great shape.

      Performance automotive leather is high quality and made to last and, in most cases, will last longer than the car

      3. Leather increases the residual value of your car.

      Leather seats are near the top of the list of many people’s ‘must haves’ when they are looking at buying a premium second-hand car and are in demand with a higher perceived value that is often associated with luxury.

      Whether you keep your car for 1, 3 or 5 years before selling it, a leather interior will retain its look and feel due to its durability and ensure the residual value of your car remains high, giving you a better return on your investment when compared with alternative PU/PVC based materials that will not perform or look the same.

      4. Leather is the sustainable option.

      Contrary to the wave of opinion often portrayed in the media, automotive leather is the sustainable option to choose.

      Leather is a by-product of the meat industry and is the ultimate upcycled material, saving significant waste going to landfill. Modern leather manufacturing techniques and legislation have led to an ever-reducing impact on the planet, especially when compared to what’s involved in manufacturing PU/PVC, which makes up a large part of ‘vegan leather alternatives.

      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.

      The durability of leather ensures a long lifespan, and retrims or seat covers are not required, saving unnecessary manufacturing of new materials by choosing right the first time.

      5. Leather is the most comfortable option.

      Passenger wellbeing is high on the agenda of modern car design, and with the amount of time we spend in a car, it’s important we are comfortable.

      Automotive leather feels great and has a natural flex or give, making it very comfortable on long (and short) journeys, unlike PU/PVC alternatives, which are generally rigid with no flex.

      The natural characteristics of automotive leather mean it will wick away sweat on a hot day, and modern perforated leather allows cooling systems installed in the seat to help. On cold days, the leather works well with heating systems to keep you warm.

      Whilst these 5 reasons should be compelling as to why you should choose real automotive leather for your next car, we respect everyone’s right to choose should you not want a natural animal product in your car. When choosing an alternative, please take the time to find out what the material is made of, as “vegan leather” doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable.

      Subscribe to our newsletter

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


        Playing Our Part In Driving The Automotive Leather Industry Messaging

        In Article1 Minute

        Article

        One 4 Leather plays an important part in informing and educating the automotive industry about leather and ensuring everyone can access the facts about this beautiful, upcycled material.

        In his latest article, Dr Mike Redwood discusses the role that leather industry organisations, including One 4 Leather, play in driving the messaging in these important times and ensuring leather continues to be sourced by automotive OEMs.

        Read his article in ILM here: https://internationalleathermaker.com/supporting-leathers-best-spokespeople/

        Reference And Sources Used
        https://internationalleathermaker.com/supporting-leathers-best-spokespeople/


        Can Leather Play Its Part In The Production Of A Sustainable Car?

        In Article7 Minutes

        Article

        Automotive manufacturers have established their sustainability programs with the aim to cut carbon emissions in their manufacturing plants and become carbon neutral within the next decade (Scope 1 and 2). Further, OEMs are looking at their supply chain and how to source materials that will lower their carbon footprint (as part of Scope 3) to meet these goals.

        What brand? Electric, hybrid or ICE? What exterior paint colour? Which of the many accessory packs on offer do you select? There are so many choices, which can be overwhelming, so this article can hopefully help with one of your choices on interior materials and why leather is the best for your seats, steering wheel, and trim.

        1. Leather is a durable material.

        Performance automotive leather is high quality and made to last and, in most cases, will last longer than the car; many classic cars still have the original leather interior that was fitted decades previously.

        Interiors are subjected to many external factors during use, such as people sitting on them, getting in and out, sweat from our hands on the steering wheel, high/low temperatures, sunlight, staining and soiling. Automotive leather manufacturers must produce products to meet the exacting standards of the OEMs to ensure leather can withstand all these factors and more and look as good as it did on day one.

        Compare this to the new wave of alternative materials, often called ‘vegan leather’ (a term to greenwash their credentials). Many of these materials do not have the durability of real leather and deteriorate when exposed to these same factors. There are now studies, such as the FILK report1, that prove leather’s durability, and there are increasing stories on the internet2 of consumers who have major issues with their interiors after just a couple of years of use.

        2. Leather is easy to maintain.

        Very little is needed to be done to keep automotive leather looking fantastic. Its anti-soiling properties mean a spilt coffee, muddy dogs or children’s snacks won’t stain, smell, or ruin your seats.

        Post-pandemic, the easy nature of being able to kill bugs and viruses with a simple wipe is very reassuring; some companies now offer anti-viral finishes doing the job for you. Leather doesn’t trap pollen or dust, making it ideal for people who suffer from allergies.

        Regularly vacuuming the seats and wiping them with a damp, light soap solution will keep them clean and fresh, and once or twice a year, use an approved conditioner to ensure they remain in great shape.

        Performance automotive leather is high quality and made to last and, in most cases, will last longer than the car

        3. Leather increases the residual value of your car.

        Leather seats are near the top of the list of many people’s ‘must haves’ when they are looking at buying a premium second-hand car and are in demand with a higher perceived value that is often associated with luxury.

        Whether you keep your car for 1, 3 or 5 years before selling it, a leather interior will retain its look and feel due to its durability and ensure the residual value of your car remains high, giving you a better return on your investment when compared with alternative PU/PVC based materials that will not perform or look the same.

        4. Leather is the sustainable option.

        Contrary to the wave of opinion often portrayed in the media, automotive leather is the sustainable option to choose.

        Leather is a by-product of the meat industry and is the ultimate upcycled material, saving significant waste going to landfill. Modern leather manufacturing techniques and legislation have led to an ever-reducing impact on the planet, especially when compared to what’s involved in manufacturing PU/PVC, which makes up a large part of ‘vegan leather alternatives.

        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.

        The durability of leather ensures a long lifespan, and retrims or seat covers are not required, saving unnecessary manufacturing of new materials by choosing right the first time.

        5. Leather is the most comfortable option.

        Passenger wellbeing is high on the agenda of modern car design, and with the amount of time we spend in a car, it’s important we are comfortable.

        Automotive leather feels great and has a natural flex or give, making it very comfortable on long (and short) journeys, unlike PU/PVC alternatives, which are generally rigid with no flex.

        The natural characteristics of automotive leather mean it will wick away sweat on a hot day, and modern perforated leather allows cooling systems installed in the seat to help. On cold days, the leather works well with heating systems to keep you warm.

        Whilst these 5 reasons should be compelling as to why you should choose real automotive leather for your next car, we respect everyone’s right to choose should you not want a natural animal product in your car. When choosing an alternative, please take the time to find out what the material is made of, as “vegan leather” doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable.

        Subscribe to our newsletter

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


          Vegan Interiors Are Not Necessarily More Sustainable Than Leather

          In Article, Fact1 Minute

          Article

          According to Erin Baker, UK automotive journalist "vegan interiors are not necessarily more sustainable than leather".

          Erin opens her article with “Leather bad, vegan good”, is the general chant that has swept out of California ever since Tesla set forth on a pledge of 100 per cent vegan interiors in all its cars, an idea which has trickled down into the portfolios of multiple brands since.”

          In the article, she discusses topics such as leather being a waste product and by-product of the meat industry, vegan materials contain plastic and the importance of responsible sourcing and traceability.

          To read this insightful article on the Goodwood website, please click here: https://bit.ly/45CANRr

          Subscribe to our newsletter

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


            Rendering And Tanning: The Ultimate Sustainability Processes

            In Article6 Minutes

            Article

            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

            Subscribe to our newsletter

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


              Plastics And Toxins In Leather Alternatives

              In Article5 Minutes

              Article

              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

              Subscribe to our newsletter

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


                Leather Remains Popular Despite More Interior Options Being Offered

                In Article6 Minutes

                Article

                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

                Subscribe to our newsletter

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


                  All You Need To Know About Leather’s Green Credentials

                  In Article2 Minutes

                  Article

                  Our friends at Leather Naturally have an excellent series of short articles summarising key facts about leather and what makes it such a unique material.

                  In one of these, they ask the question: “Is leather environmentally friendly?” Unsurprisingly, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Let’s take a quick look at some of the issues they address in their brief (739 words) overview:

                  Chemicals
                  It’s no secret that leather has always required chemical processing to achieve its wide range of unique properties. But what’s less known is that a combination of legal and voluntary regulations ensure that today’s industry is strictly controlled.

                  Sustainability
                  Renewable, long-lasting and repairable. Check, check, check. As a by-product of the meat industry, if hides weren’t used for leather they would be put into landfill which is in itself an environmental risk.

                  Recyclability
                  Even at the end of a long useful life, leather can be shredded and used in all kinds of applications from footwear and punch bags to upholstery and decorative wall coverings. And work is ongoing to find innovative new ways to recycle it.

                  Renewable, long-lasting and repairable. Check, check, check. As a by-product of the meat industry, if hides weren’t used for leather they would be put into landfill which is in itself an environmental risk.

                  Biodegradability
                  As an organic material, leather naturally biodegrades in the ground to complete its lifecycle without a trace. This will take between 10-15 years in a landfill site. Compare that with a piece of PVC which would take over 500 years to break down!

                  What about ‘faux leather’?
                  ‘Faux leather’, ‘vegan leather’, ‘PU leather’, ‘synthetic leather’, ‘artificial leather’… most include plastic elements derived from oil such as polyester, nylon or PVC – none of which come from renewable sources, and none of which are biodegradable.

                  The bottom line is that leather is based on a by-product of another industry which would otherwise be thrown away. It is also renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. What synthetic material can honestly compete with that?

                  Read 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.