Not costs but savingsA talk with Yves Morin, CTC CEO & UITIC president
The French CTC is specialised in quality assurance and sustainability for footwear, leather goods and apparel. With accredited laboratories and quality assurance inspection offices located world-wide, CTC offers testing, inspection, audit and consultancy. We asked some questions to Yves Morin, CTC Ceo and also UITIC (International Union of Shoe Industry Technicians) president.
What is CTC point of view as regards sustainability in hides and skins processing?
“Leather processing made a lot of progress in the last years about sustainability, and you can see the results in so many areas. First, we had huge investments in factories to update the equipment, for example the waste water treatment plants are now common in many countries, and now we know very well how to handle the polluting water issue. Another progress came from the identification of chemical substances, the regulation is now very clear and strict in almost every country, and mainly in Europe with REACH, so that every tanner can now update its process on a regular basis to be compliant. We also see progress in working conditions and we have now training programs for the workers within the most reliable tanneries. There are also factory audits conducted by experts, according to several audit programs, to follow every progress made in the process to follow the best international standards. This is helpful for the factory to identify its improvement points, it is also a very good way to benchmark each other”.
Sustainability has its value, but also its price…
“When it is about sustainability everybody think costs! I believe it is a wrong approach, why do not we think about savings generated by the sustainability policy? There are some and in so many areas: savings of raw materials such as expensive chemicals, saving of hides, savings of water, savings of waste materials, savings of time, better staff well trained, more safety at the work place, etc. And last but not least, probably a customer who will come back again”.
Who are the main customers of your laboratories and which are the most requested analyses and tests?
“Our customers are coming from every country, they are tanners, finished products manufacturers, traders, importers, small companies but also large leading groups. During many years we used to run a lot of physical tests to qualify physical properties of the materials. Then, starting with 2008 and DMFU crisis, we had more and more requests for chemical analysis, the increase was so important in this topic that we had to invest a lot to follow the demand! Now the balance is almost 50% for physical testing and 50% for chemical analysis that we perform in our several laboratories in Europe and Asia”.
Manufacturers often complain about discordances of results among different laboratories. What do you think?
“Hides, skins and leather are natural products which are not so easy to handle in a laboratory! In fact, behind this complaint there are often problems with CRVI, which is not stable, you may find it in certain circumstances in laboratory A and with the same sample do not find it in other circumstances in another laboratory B. Most of the times this is due to the substance mainly which “changes”, but sometimes it might be due to the laboratory itself, it may not know very well the tanning process and leather materials…”.
Which are the big challenges of the leather sector in the next future?
“Quality of hides is still a major issue for some kind of skins. Market prices and its volatility are also a permanent challenge for companies. And sustainability, considered globally, from chemical substances to recycling, including animal welfare, is a permanent issue now for most demanding markets such as luxury products and for some countries, mainly in Europe”.
Can you tell us something about CTC research activities?
“Our research activities do not focus only on leather, we are also involved in finished products such as shoes, leather goods and gloves, so we have programs with other materials such as PU, PVC, textiles, etc. So we also have a research program for improving manufacturing process of those finished products. Having saying that, about leather material, some example of our non-confidential items, we work on testing methods to help the industry using the right tools to identify the chemical substances. We have also a large program on traceability, so that it could become easier to trace the hides and the origin of problems that occur on leather. The use of chromium 3 is also a study we run to reduce the presence of CRVI in finished products”.