To produce one square metre of leather, today a European tannery uses an average of 0.12 cubic metres of water. Over the past six years, the sector’s water consumption has decreased by 7%. This is one of the figures that emerged from the second edition of the Socio-Environmental Report (SER 2020) presented via the website by the federation of European tanners Cotance together with industriAll-Europe (the union representing workers) on last 1 December.
SER 2020 describes the social and environmental performance of European tanning and defines the objectives of the sector roadmap for the coming years. It was illustrated during a videoconference coordinated by Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, general secretary of Cotance, who saw the participation of experts from the Italian, French and Spanish tanning associations and several guests. “Today the industry has to deal with an adverse context that paints our processes as dangerous. The truth is that leather is a sustainable and modern material and these studies help us prove it. All of our companies are strongly committed to reducing the use of natural resources and chemicals”, said Andreas Kindermann, president of Cotance.
The second Socio-Environmental Report (the first was released in 2012) – produced with the contribution of the European Commission together with 3 new videos available on Youtube – highlights the progress made in the last years and shows how the tanning industry in Europe still today represents a strategic segment of the manufacturing sector, thanks to the combination of tradition and continuous innovation. These characteristics have led the European tanning sector to become a world leader, both in terms of value and quality. The EU share of global turnover is the largest, with 30%, ahead of China, Brazil, India and other major manufacturers.
The unrivaled quality of European leather is recognised internationally. Technological innovation, process performance, environmental protection, social responsibility, design and style,
are the assets underlying the success of European tanners.
The European tanning sector is made up of almost 1,600 companies and 33,000 employees, although there has been a gradual concentration in the last decade. The sector is traditionally made up of small and medium-sized family businesses, but includes also large, publicly traded multinationals. A European medium size tannery currently consists in 21 employees; in 2000 employees were 24. The turnover of European tanning is almost 7.4 billion euro which becomes 125 considering the downstream sectors for a set of 40 thousand companies and 2 million employees.
The sample analysed consisted of 79 companies (5% of the EU total) based in Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Portugal, Hungary and Romania.
Increasing transparency in tanneries is an ongoing commitment that involves all operators of the leather industry. The identity of the European tanning industry does not correspond to the terrible images of irresponsible operators so often transmitted through websites and social media. On the contrary, European tanneries combine craftsmanship and creativity in an industry that exemplifies the circular economy better than any other; an industry that seeks young people to project itself into the future.
SER2020 is available in 9 languages including Italian at this LINK 

A moment of the videoconference organised to present SER 2020
The figures of European tanning industry