Leather chemists from all over the world met in Dresden from 25 to 28 June to follow the work of the XXXV IULTCS Congress entitled “Benign by design – a Future through Science and Sustainability”.
The attendance was very huge: there were 480 delegates who had the opportunity to listen to seventy technical-scientific reports and view more than one hundred researches presented in “poster” mode. The organisation of the hosts, VGCT, the German Union of leather chemists and technicians, which set up an important event both from a social point of view and in terms of contents, was impeccable.
A success in terms of attendance and work quality that exceeded the same expectations of Dietrich Tegtmeyer, president of the Congress and past president of IULTCS who at the end of the event told us:
Personally I have learned a lot from the Congresses of the past and I am happy to have contributed to the success of this one, which represents the culmination of my association commitment. I hope all the participants found something interesting to take home with them.
Thomas Yu, president of IULTCS, was also very satisfied:
I am convinced that only through the exchange of experiences can be promoted a real change and an opportunity like this with experts and researchers from 35 different countries is really valuable for the progress of the sector.
The Congress was inaugurated on the evening of 25 June with the official speeches of organisers and local authorities, pleasantly interspersed with music played by the Dresden Youth Symphony Orchestra.
The following day, conference work was launched with a vast program of topics, both for the scientific part concerning basic research on skin collagen and for the more technological part concerning the novelties of the production process. There were many papers dedicated to the most impacting phases of the tanning process, such as the beamhouse cycle, soaking, unhairing and liming phases with the proposal of innovative and more sustainable solutions. Ample space has also been given to studies on the reduction of emissions in automotive leathers, a topic that is very much felt by tanners operating in this sector.
Many ideas emerged from the studies presented by researchers from research institutes and universities around the world, from the use of micro-waves to accelerate tanning to the development of new “bio-based” tanning agents of all types, from mushrooms to bacteria, to organic waste of all kinds. Speakers often talked about climate change, environmental footprint and the reuse of waste from the production process.
Parallel to the scientific part, two “engineering sessions”, one dedicated to the automation and digitisation of leather production and the other to the novelties of machinery and equipment.
Adjacent to the congress hall, there was also an exhibition area where about thirty companies had set up real information stands.
To offer the opportunity to present their research work to a greater number of researchers, the organisers inaugurated a new format that was very successful for the speed of each presentation: a quick three-minute scientific speech followed by an in-depth analysis planned poster sessions (called speed session).
Among the keynote papers of the Congress, in addition to the Heidemann Lecture entrusted to prof. Kheng-Lim Goh that was dedicated to the stability of collagen, we point out the one of Michael Costello who spoke about the life cycle of products (LCA) and explained how the new calculation rules of the environmental footprint (EPD) give the possibility to analyse and discuss different solutions comparing numerical data, thus with a more rational approach, and also the more inspirational presentation by Dietrich Tegtmeyer, entitled “Sustainability 4.0 – the passport to our future” which recalled the beauty and fragility of our planet and the need to arrive early to a production system focused on the recovery of waste in a perspective of full circular economy.
As for Italian participation, the Congress saw the presentation of a research on the defectiveness of the leather and the problem of the yellowing of the Italian Leather Research Institute (SSIP) and interesting studies carried out by the Ars Tinctoria companies (false positives in laboratories), Codyeco (new biopolymers, Life Biopol project), Erretre (cold milling), GER Elettronica (a new colour control system), GSC Group (emission reductions in automotive leather finishing) and Silvateam (study on the antibacterial properties of vegetable tannins).
The XXXV Congress IULTCS 2019 finally ended with the announcement of the next two editions.
In 2021 the world appointment of leather chemists will be hosted by Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.
In 2023 it will be the turn of Chengdu, in China.