In an official letter sent on last 8 October on behalf of the major international associations and confederations related to the tanning activity, was formally requested to suspend the attribution of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) score to leather. For those who don’t know, the Higg index measures the sustainability degree of the materials used by the global fashion industry for the production of clothes and accessories and was founded in 2012 on the initiative of SAC, an acronym of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, to help designers and manufacturers to make choices with a lower environmental impact. A high MSI value obviously causes serious damage to the tanning industry but above all it does not reflect reality as leather is a natural material derived from industrial food processing wastes.
As explained in the letter signed by the secretary of the International Council of Tanners (ICT), Kerry Senior, the score attributed to cowhide during the last revision of the Higg index is “disproportionately high” so as to make it appear even less sustainable than synthetic materials derived from petroleum. The error – explains the letter – is the result of the application of “inappropriate methodologies” and “outdated, unrepresentative, inaccurate and incomplete data”.
The following associations counter-signed the ICT letter requesting the MSI suspension: Australian Hides, Skins and Leather Exporters Association (ASHLEA), Centro das Indústrias de Curtumes do Brasil (Brazilian Tanners Association – CICB), Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE), International Council of Hides, Skins and Leather Traders Association (ICHSLTA), International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS), Italian Tanners Association – UNIC, Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), Leather Naturally, Leather UK, Leather Working Group (LWG), One 4 Leather and Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists (SLTC).