First of all transparencyWith 197 years of history, the Dutch company Smit & zoon is a leading global supplier of wet-end and finishing leather chemicals for tanneries with focus on innovation and sustainability and a long-term vision.
We asked for some questions to Egbert Dikkers, Sustainability Director in Smit & zoon.
Smit & zoon has invested a lot in terms of sustainability in the last years, what are the most important results achieved so far?
“As a 7th generation family owned company, sustainability is in heart our DNA. The most important results include the fact that our team members are CSR ambassadors fully dedicated to make the leather value chain largely sustainable. One of our Research & Development platform is working on bio based ingredients. Part of that platform is the public/private partnership in the LIFE BIOPOL project to develop of a new class of biopolymers. Late 2018, we introduced the second version of our Product Passport, which is the first initiative from a chemical company to be transparent on the impact of our chemicals and supportive in choosing the right ones. Next to this, we invest in sustainability through making our Global Director Sustainability largely available to catalyse good industry initiatives like the Leather Working Group with their focus on tanneries, the ZDHC with their focus on chemicals and waste water and towards Leather Naturally that focusses on the promotion of the image of leather”.
What are the next steps?
“We will intensify our investment in our Research and Development teams to bring new developments to our customers. We will also continue to learn and build on the Product Passport to ensure that this will remain to be a transparent benchmark for the industry. It is expected that we will expand the number of regional and national leather application centers in our key markets. Furthermore we will keep on supporting the leading industry initiatives mentioned earlier and ensure that our customers will keep on valuing Smit & zoon / Codyeco as a valued partner”.
What are the challenges still to be won in the sector?
“Many solutions to make the leather value chain more sustainable have been invented already. It is up to the industry to work in partnership and look to solutions and costs and savings involved from a wider perspective. Sometimes a higher priced chemical can result in much lower costs in the waste water treatment. We also consider it to be a challenge to ensure that we are getting clarity in labels used, like ‘eco leather, metal free leather, bio-based materials, etc ’. Last but not least, we should care about the consumer. We must realize that the industry has a common challenge here. This challenge is to promote leather as a sustainable material with unique characteristics as compared to alternative materials. We kindly invite you to support Leather Naturally” (we remind that Dikkers is chair of Leather Naturally’s Management Board).