The circular economy aims to preserve the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible, reducing the production of waste to a minimum. In this way, sustainability grows along with the performance of production processes, promoting the development of new products and technologies. If this is the reference framework, it is immediately evident that the tanning sector has always operated with a view to circular economy. Once tanned, the leather obtained using waste from the food industry, is transformed into a long-lasting material that gives the products the opportunity of being upgraded, repaired and easily maintained. All features that fully correspond to the eligibility criteria set out in the Green Deal and the new European action plan for the circular economy.
As also states the UNIC Sustainability Report, the push towards climate neutrality and the global sustainable development goals will necessarily have to pass through a consumption model based on the durability and reuse of products. Over a given horizon where “we will consume less, but better”, sustainable fashion will increasingly need materials such as leather that allow repeated use over time.
The theme about the reuse of waste materials from the tanning process is also of considerable importance. In the following pages (see Sicit and Ilsa) we offer some successful examples of this. Rich in proteins and amino acids, leather processing scraps become precious raw materials for the production of quality fertilisers but also products for other supply chains. The end of life of the skin, in the sense of its ability to biodegrade in a reasonable time is another major issue. In this regard, the type of tanning chosen and the chemicals used are very important. In recent years, the chemical tanning industry has been working on the development of innovative tanning agents derived from renewable biomass of plant origin that can guarantee the production of cleaner, more sustainable and even recyclable leathers. In ARS TANNERY no. 2/2021 you will find the latest innovations launched on the market by the main companies in the sector, together with ongoing research projects intended to further improve the sustainability profile of the leather supply chain.