The themes dealt with during the AICC Tuscany Area Conference held in digital mode on last 1 July are very topical. Entitled “Green Deal: sustainable development strategy”, the webinar involved three professors from the University of Siena who talked about the meaning of green chemistry and the need for new approaches on the path of sustainability.
Roberto Mariano Mecenero, president of AICC, introduced the work, followed by the secretary Giancarlo Lovato who recalled the many associative activities including courses, seminars and conferences held in the last year despite the restrictions related to the pandemic. Introducing the speakers, Vice President Franca Nuti, who explained how after the pandemic and the launch of the European Green Deal, which have significantly accelerated the market’s push towards sustainability, we cannot simply start from where we left off. “Today we need to redesign the future, companies must understand the right way to express true sustainability, studying new approaches and processing methods”. To dissect the various related problems, leather chemists asked the academic world for guidance, in particular from three brilliant researchers who took stock of the topic.
Annalisa Santucci, Full Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Department of Excellence in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Siena, has presented a report entitled “Green Deal and bio-based approaches in the leather industry” in which she summarised the European commitments towards climate neutrality and the waste elimination programme, explaining the importance of the bioeconomy concept for the production of biological and renewable resources together with the reuse and valorisation of waste. “The tanning industry – she said – is already a circular economy model since it uses waste from the food industry as a raw material and reuses part of its residues but there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce sludge and pollutant load”.
In her report dedicated to green chemistry “Green Chemistry: the indispensable tool” Elena Petricci (Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry – Department of Excellence in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Pharmacy – University of Siena) spoke of circular economy and also of the importance to reduce the use of water in the tanning process by opting for recycling systems, citing the positive example represented by the Tuscan project “Acqua 360” which involves the reuse of purified civil wastewater for tanning processes.
Finally, Maria Laura Parisi (Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry – Department of Excellence in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Pharmacy – University of Siena) took stock of the “LCA in the leather industry: state of the art and perspectives” explaining how the life cycle analysis is now considered the only valid tool to measure the environmental impact of products and processes also due to its holistic approach along the entire supply chain. Equally important are tools such as Ecodesign, traceability and blockchain.
The conference then ended with a speech by Professor Maurizio Masini, a communications expert, who spoke of the need to move from storytelling to action by making the concept of sustainability within companies increasingly concrete.