AICC ready to face industry challengesWaste treatment, sustainability and biodegradability: the 45th AICC National Conference focused on the future of research and the industry
The crystalline sea of the Amalfi cliffs was the backdrop of the 45th AICC National Conference, which was held on 7 July 2017 high up above the sea in Vietri, near Salerno. A location of rare intensity for an equally appealing format: instead of a series of professional presentations, the AICC Council preferred to insert the speeches during a friendly dinner, with a different way of meeting each other, more informal and more immediate, without minimizing the seriousness of the topics being discussed. In fact, the Conference invited participants to talk about the theme of “Biodegradability, Innovation and Waste Utilization” allowing them to become opportunities for sustainable growth in the tanning industry.
Before starting the presentations, Ernesto Pisoni, president of the Association briefly outlined the work performed by the Council during the first half of the year under his presidency, explaining how he worked on many issues, including communication and training. «Today training is very important and the request for continuous updating is high».
This analysis was also shared by Michele De Maio representing the Tanner’s Association of Solofra and UNIC Councillor: «To stay on the market we must constantly pursue ongoing training, especially with regard to young people who seem to be very motivated».
Also during the opening sessions, Gabriella Bocca, ASSOMAC president, stressed that «training on chemicals and mechanics, in synergy, can be very useful tools throughout the entire chain». A collaboration that also convinces Edgardo Stefani, UNPAC President: «I see that all the trade associations (AICC, UNIC, Assomac, UNPAC) are experiencing a moment of ferment. Only four years ago, there were no technicians representing our companies in discussions regarding national and international standards. The important thing is that, even if there is no official recognition of the work performed by the various associations, this synergy must however be implemented by everyone».
The introductory talks were followed by five top-level technical presentations.
Doctor Tiziana Gambicorti of the Experimental Station for the Industry of Leather and Tanning Materials, illustrated the state of the art of “Technologies for the Treatment of Tanning Waste” presenting a study performed in collaboration with the engineer Daniela Caracciolo, promoted to spread the culture of reuse: the study examined the various methods that can be adopted, highlighting the procedures, limits (some technologies that are now “old”) and advantages.
From the technologies of the present to those of the future with research by Gustavo Defeo on an innovative method of virtual prototyping, made possible by the applications of the new “Total Appearance Capture” scanner and the “Pantora” software developed together with the multinational Swiss company, X-Rite. The system allows hypothesizing with great realism the combinations between the items and to change the color combinations and textures under different scenarios, arriving at the final design of a product by having greatly reduced the sampling necessary. Also, very relevant is the work performed by Silva Team and presented by Eric Poles regarding tanning with a Gallic/Ellagic Dispersed (GED) tannin, whose physical and organoleptic properties can be improved by the addition of a Cationic Ester (CE). The study explained the features of GED tanning and illustrated the recycling phases and biodegradability of exhaust baths, demonstrating a simple process comparable to traditional vegetable tanning.
The laboratories of Stahl also focused on sustainability in the tanning industry. Doctor Roberta Gamarino, Stahl R&D Wet End Manager, talked about the chemical solutions to support sustainability during the processing phase, first by explaining the five areas of corporate eco-policy aimed at responsible manufacturing and then by illustrating the environmental and social benefits of the new metal-free tanning processes and hybrid tanning systems, using bio-polyurethane from renewable substances.
Doctor Biagio Naviglio of the Experimental Station, as well as Chairman of the Association of Chemists of Campania concluded the sessions. He discussed measuring biodegradability of differently tanned leather. Knowing the degree of biodegradability of tanning products allows us to evaluate their impact on the environment. His work is presented in more detail in the SSIP pages of this issue.