Leather chemists met in Turbigo on 1 October for the 49th AICC Lombardy-Piedmont Area National Conference entitled “Legislative changes and restrictions for the leather supply chain”. Roberto Mariano Mecenero, president of AICC, intervened to open the works coordinated by the district manager Ernesto Pisoni, who recalled that the association’s primary mission is the dissemination of scientific culture, an objective that will reach its peak next year with the IULTCS Eurocongress 2022, to be held in Vicenza, the European congress of the chemical tanning sector whose organisation has been assigned to Italy and therefore to AICC: “It will be a great opportunity that involves the entire leather supply chain and allowing us to show our abilities at continental level”, said Mecenero.

After the report by AICC secretary Giancarlo Lovato on the activities carried out by the association in the last year, the microphone passed on to Marco Frediani, president of UNPAC, the union of Italian leather chemical manufacturers, who reiterated the importance of the collaboration between two associations that “are two sides of the same coin” having many people and objectives in common. The outgoing mayor Christian Garavaglia, no longer eligible for re-election after two mandates, expressed the hope that the new administration of the municipality of Turbigo understands the importance of supporting the tanning sector in the area and its commitment to research and development of increasingly attentive products to the environment.

The work of the conference therefore came to life with the report by Paola Ulivi (Danger & Safety), who spoke about the latest evolutions of the REACH and CLP regulations, illustrating the new challenges that await the chemical tanning companies including new substance restrictions and new rules for the use of isocyanates and polymers. “In the next few years – added Ulivi – all registrants will be asked to update their registration dossiers and bear new expenses to keep their registration active. It will be necessary to dedicate resources to the development of correct safety data sheets which include exposure scenarios even in the case of mixtures according to the latest guidelines. Controls are intensifying and with significant penalties”.

Tiziana Gambicorti of the Italian Leather Research Institute reported on the problem of the need to review and standardise the analysis methods of chemical products. Italy had in fact presented, in October 2020, a formal request for the creation of a working group (WG) at international level dedicated to the development of methods for tanning chemicals. “A constantly evolving landscape – explained the expert – in which mandatory regulations are constantly increasing and that makes it ever more necessary to have available standardised methods. The proposal of a new CEN/TC 289 working group dedicated to the development of standard methods for chemical tanning products is at the service of this need”.

Maurizio Maggioni, UNPAC secretary, released a very passionate report speaking about “Opportunities and restricted specifications” pointing the finger at those “foundations supported by brands that have created private specifications, to which tanneries and chemical producers must adapt by facing important investments and expenses to comply with the claims contained in the various MRSL, sometimes without scientific basis”. And again: “We have become the Cash Machine of Audit and Data Platforms, but what effective feedback do Italian companies have in the face of the forced withdrawal imposed with the excuse of making the sector sustainable worldwide”? Hence the need to join forces with the tanneries, create a task force, develop a common language along the entire supply chain and speak directly with the brands. “We must interact with brands by adopting a strategy aimed at creating consensus through competence based on scientific and sustainable bases”, declared the UNPAC secretary.

“Moreover, added the manager of the chemical-tanning companies, the enormous money flow spent by tanneries and chemical companies for registrations (estimated at about 2.5 million) how and by whom is it used? These organisations never raise their voice in defense of the international tanning sector”.
With a view to the supply chain, there is a significant action underway consisting in the collaboration between UNPAC and ICEC for the development of a specific Protocol for the creation of an interface platform with the ZDHC Chemical Gateway for the implementation of chemical auxiliaries of UNPAC member companies which was also the subject of the report by Aldo Cavezzali of ICEC – Institute of Quality Certification for the Leather Sector, terminating the work of the Conference: “We embarked on this adventure at the request of the tanneries that are dealing with opaque platforms and exorbitant analysis costs. Our goal is to minimise these expenses”, Cavezzali concluded.

The audience  at the Teatro Iris in Turbigo that hosted the 49° National AICC Convention