Speaking of sustainable tanning, we cannot but mention a research project that involves the entire supply chain. We are talking about “Ri-Leather: a new development of products and technologies for the reduction of hazardous and polluting substances, the reuse and recycling of leather processing waste”. Launched in autumn 2019, co-financed by the Veneto Region, the research project bears the signature of the Italian Leather Research Institute (SSIP) as scientific partner and is led by the chemical products company Real Color, including also Conceria Montebello, Conceria Corradi and Biodermol, a company that specialises in enzymes.
In short, Ri-Leather aims at introducing innovative chemical products and tanning processes – from the depilation/liming phase, to tanning and retanning phase – in order to reduce the environmental impact and introduce new eco-sustainable products on the market, aimed at improving creative productions. Biodermol Ambiente, partner of the project is doing a very interesting work commited to research and implementation of an enzyme-based liming process, able both to depilate the skins in the absence of reducing agents (sulphide and sulphhydrate), and to keep the hair intact so that it can be revalued as a by-product.
The objectives of the researchers are: reduction of purification sludge and wastewater COD, through the introduction of a new enzymatic/oxidative hair removal system with “recovery” of the hair; consistent reduction of polluting and dangerous substances such as sulphides in the hair removal treatment; reuse of the intact hair and free of dangerous substances for the realisation of padding and insulating panels and technical fabrics; reuse and recycling of tanned leather residues and characterisation and enhancement of the same in terms of biodegradability of crust leather; COD reduction of wastewater from the retanning process.