A leather interior has long been a hallmark of a premium vehicle. But this assumption is under pressure as leather faces increasing competition from alternative materials. The leather industry, however, has ways to fight back.
Over the last few years, leather chemicals specialist Stahl has poured enormous sums into developing more sustainable ways to process automotive leather. The upshot today is that tanners now have a full range of sustainable wet-end options to choose from. These leathers perform as well or better than traditional chrome-based systems, without the sustainability downsides.
The foundation is Stahl EasyWhite Tan®. Chrome-free, this eliminates the need for a pickling process in the beamhouse. With its key ingredient – Granofin Easy F 90 Liquid – being organic, it opens the door to a range of sustainable retanning, dyeing and softening options. Technical features of these products include the use of bio-based surfactants and dispersing agents, plant polyol-based neutralising and re-tanning agents, a re-tanning agent that has been sourced from recovered protein, and two types of modified vegetable-based extracts produced from shrub pods or leaves.
The leathers made this way cover every automotive application. Think of embossed and full-grain seating, instrument panels, gear shifts and lever gaiters and tear-resistant lightweight seating, among others. The sustainability benefits include lower water and power requirements during production, proven low individual contributions to emissions, compliance with and beyond the strictest standards for hazardous chemicals*, and options to safely burn end-of-life leather.
For Stahl, the company’s sustainable wet-end range underlines its commitment to responsible chemistry and to meeting manufacturer and consumer demand for more planet-friendly automotive interiors.
* All Stahl sustainable wet-end products comply with and exceed the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) guidelines.