Last 2 October was organsised a workshop on the sustainability of the raw material for the tanning sector in Milan by UNIC – Concerie Italiane in collaboration with Cotance and Lineapelle and the support of the Social Dialogue Programme of the European Commission.
Numerous topics were addressed, starting from the need to know the origin of raw hides to obtain complete traceability, an increasingly strong request coming from the luxury market. The theme of animal welfare is also under the spotlight, observed through the analysis of international regulations and standards. Researchers, university professors, representatives of certification bodies, non-governmental associations, entrepreneurs in the meat sectors and technology experts shared the microphone. Among these Scan-Hide’s Danish CEO Michael Søndergaard, who has developed a traceability system already adopted by many farmers in his country that allows to follow the origin and the path of each individual hide from the birth of the animal up to the creation of the finished product (“from farm to sofa” is his motto).
Not too distant is the Italian model that boasts a control “from the field to the fork”, like Marco Ganzerli of Inalca, Cremonini Group, the leading Italian meat producer which processes about 700,000 animals a year, actively engaged in a sustainability process that has already materialised in a significant reduction in emissions and resources used, also through water recyling and self-produced energy. “We aim to become 100% sustainable”, said Ganzerli without forgetting the attention to quality assured by 140,000 audits on suppliers that the group performs each year.
Traceability means transparency, an important added value that tanners can use to recount their commitment and counter fake news on the leather, as reiterated by representatives of the main certification bodies on the market today, namely ICEC, CSCB (Brazil) and LWG. There has also been talk of the recent fires in the Amazon, due to which fashion groups such as VF Corp and H&M have temporarily suspended purchases of Brazilian leather, unduly held responsible for deforestation. In cases like these – is the underlying message – the use of adequate traceability tools can help tanners to reject totally unfounded accusations.
Stephen Sothmann, president of Ushsla, the American association of  hide, skin and leather producers and traders, spoke of regulatory gaps and differences between the systems in force in the various US states announcing that the association is working on developing its own traceability scheme and federal certification to equalise standards. Deborah Taylor of LWG spoke of  “Safety in the supply chain” and reiterated the growing attention of the market towards information on the origin of leather and the need to further improve the LWG schemes also developing new systems currently under study.
Finally, Francesco Matelli of the Arbitration Chamber for the leather trade, pointed out that in recent months the rawhide price fall has led to a decrease in the attention paid to the quality of the raw material sent to tanneries with a consequent increase in complaints.