The challenge is on the competitionDietrich Tegtmeyer is Vice President at Lanxess. He started his long career as a chemist in 1989 and today is one of the most well-known leather experts in the world.
Outside the company, Tegtmeyer served as Executive Committee Member for the Leather Working Group for 4 years and was the president of the International Union for Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS). Currently he is active as an executive of the German Union for Tannery Chemicals and Technologies (VGCT) and the TeGeWa, an association representing the German chemical industry.
Dr. Tegtmeyer, speaking about sustainability what are the most important results achieved so far by Lanxess?
“Sustainability in general is an equally ranking target in the entire company. This is the reason why Lanxess is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Details of all reports can be found in the Corporate Responsibility report. Our business unit Leather has focused for many years on the development of a sustainable product range in leather chemicals. Lanxess was the first company to remove NMP (N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone) from the finishing line and to switch completely to water-based binders and pigments. With X-TAN, then we have developed the most sustainable tanning technology. The enzymatic X-Zyme range offers the best results in the beamhouse. Lanxess is the only supplier to offer VOC-free crosslinkers and biocide formulations, and last but not least we are the first company to have developed a retanning range based on renewable raw materials. They are marketed under the brand name X-Biomer”.
What are the next steps?
“A significant amount of the R&D budget is dedicated to more sustainable product and technology solutions. A current highlight is the development of X-Biomer INSITU, the first “on site” production in which a tanner can produce the retanning chemical requirements from leather shavings in a do-it-yourself mode. Implementation in tanneries is our next step”.
What are the challenges still to be won in the sector?
“Technical solutions are available to further improve the eco-balance of the leather manufacturing process. Unfortunately, the price of oil is so low, that energy, fossil based raw material resources and transportation are quite cheap. The biggest challenge is to compete economically with modern and sustainable chemical solutions against the low price synthetic chemistry from Far East”.