After two years from its first edition, Prossimapelle Arzignano the specialised exhibition of leather chemists promoted by UNPAC (association that gathers Italian manufacturers of chemical tanning auxiliaries) could finally take place in its original version as a “moment of substantial confrontation between technicians and tanners”. A physical event at last, after two years of suspension due to the pandemic, hosted in the former Marly’s area located in the heart of Arzignano, which allowed the sector to present leather prototypes for the spring-summer 23 season made with the most innovative tanning systems available today. And it was exactly this context of innovation that brought an added value to the event, for which producers of chemical auxiliaries developed and submitted mostly new technical proposals, meeting the most stringent sustainability requirements, to the scrutiny of the tanners. Thirty-nine exhibitors were present at the event, including the main Venetian and Tuscan tanning chemical manufacturers and a significant representation of manufacturers of tannery machines. In terms of turnout, the arrival of tanners and tannery technicians, especially starting from the late afternoon, was judged satisfactory by most of the participants.
Innovations in the name of sustainability
In terms of products on display, we offer a quick overview of the innovations presented by the main companies in the sector. Among many other things, KLF proposed a low bisphenol content line made using a process that involves the use of almost completely biodegradable products. ALPA focused on Freevir, its chemical product line that make hides antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal (tested and certified). FINIKEM officially launched Finidry, a line of fluorocarbon-free water repellent resins already tested in production with excellent results and ZDHC certificates. DERMACOLOR launched Future White, an eco-sustainable wet-white system without glutaraldehyde that allows you to perform all types of (vegetable, metal free and chrome) tanning, saving time and water and reducing sulphates and chlorides. FGL focused on Permasol Bianco B, an alternative product to titanium dioxide used for metal-free articles that offers many advantages in the bleaching and dyeing phase. GSC GROUP presented the brand new AVO technology that uses an organic tanning agent derived from the recovery of washing water from olive oil production plants that ensures the production of metal free leathers with very interesting performances. SILVATEAM relaunched its Ecotan line of fully recyclable metal-free and glutaraldehyde- free bio-circular leathers. CHIME presented a stand dedicated to lightness with a wide range of metal-free items. TECNOCHIMICA presented a wide range of articles with innovative content.
CHIMICA ITALIANA proposed a range of products to make chrome-free or completely metal-free leathers. The new aromatic free paint applied on metal-free crust to create a low environmental impact item was of great impact. The research done to produce leathers with a low bisphenol content where good light resistance has been obtained was also interesting. KEMAS relaunched its rubberised leather of which it has just got the European patent. CODYECO launched the brand new article treated with antiviral, antibacterial and odour-free Micro Fresh technology, as well as lines of sustainable leathers resulting from Zeology and Bio-Pol research. CHIMICA VEMAR focused on chrome-free tanned leathers, finished with organic and renewable products.
The rise in raw material and transport costs slow down the recovery under way
Beyond technical innovations, at the stands and corridors of Prossimapelle the discussion focused of course also on the problems of the sector. The rise in raw material and transport costs is the central theme today. “Price increases arrive at 60% but it is often not just a question of prices. Two basic chemical raw materials are in short supply on the market, such as ethylene oxide and polypropylene, which are fundamental for our sector”, reports Bruno Muccignat, president of LMF Biokimica, among many others. Fabio Braggion of CORICHEM is worried the same way: “In addition to costing more, certain raw materials are just not available and force us to look for alternatives”. Emanuele Rappa, general manager of Finikem, adds: “Many of our suppliers are already on their third price increase this year. In the last period, all the schemes related to prices, from raw materials to transport, spurned. Sending a container to South America today costs at least three times as much as it did in January, a crazy thing that has no comparison with the past, tied to contingent problems to which perhaps also speculations are added. Moreover, transit times are extended and also the procurement of raw materials takes longer”.
Despite organisational and production difficulties, job forecasts for the future do not appear negative to tanning chemists. Market demand has restarted, as was also seen at Lineapelle in September, and the sector has regained some confidence: “We are quite optimistic. There is no work shortage today if you propose new things and footwear will have to restart sooner or later”, points out Gian Mario Cazzola of C.G.R.D. Chemicals. “We see encouraging signs from our customers, and we have returned to even higher levels than 2019, before the pandemic – comments Emanuele Rappa of Finikem-. The prospects for next year are good, very good for some countries: I’m talking about Portugal, Turkey, Eastern Europe and South America, while the United States is bringing back some productions that had been relocated to Asia”.