Probiotic solutions for sustainable leatherArsutoria Tannery 06/2017 - Technical Article
Since the introduction of industrial processing in the tanneries only little innovation has taken place. And certainly, most of the new developments were not introduced in the terms of sustainability. Yet, modern times ask for more natural alternatives to the traditional solutions. Processing hides and skins to manufacture leather involves generating very high amounts of wastewater and solid residues, many of them valuable for other applications if they are not contaminated with chemicals.
For example, 1 tonne of bovine salted hides requires 500 KG of chemicals to produce 250 KG of finished leather (Joint Research Center; Rydin, Stefan; Black, Michael; Scalet, Bianca Maria;, 2013). Therefore, tanners must manage huge excesses of non-leather materials to avoid pollution. When applying R3 environment strategies (European Commission, 2008), main potential actions will focus on:
- Reducing chemicals Reducing chemicals th rough efficient methods that optimize dosing and ensure full exhaustion of processing agents and eliminate or improve efficiency auxiliaries. Consequently, reduction of effluent charges will be expected by improving COD and BOD values, salinity and toxicity.
- Reusing some chemical auxiliaries that remain in the effluents and solid residues could be applied in the leather process as raw material for, e.g., retanning agents.
- Recycling solid residues by deriving protein, fats and other components to other industries of high value like cosmetics, medicine, food among others. (Adzet Adzet, 2010)
Nowadays, biotechnology is suitable to support tanners to implement R3 environment strategies by reducing the need of synthetic chemicals, improving exhaustion and adding value to by-products. Additionally, technology based on probiotics presented in this work leads to other sustainable benefits, like natural fermentation process, fully renewable raw material, 100% biodegradable, safe biochemicals, reduction of carbon footprint and at the same time improving the quality of the leather articles.