Tracing the origin of the materials used along the supply chain, including leather, is the new diktat of the large fashion groups that require their suppliers to adopt precise standards with reference to raw material provenance, animal welfare, safety of chemical substances, environmental management and so on. The Kering group, for example, has set itself the goal of making 100% of its supply chain transparent by 2025 and anyone working with one of its brands must comply with its very strict protocols.
It therefore becomes essential for tanneries to be able to guarantee the sustainability of sources to customers and end consumers, which means implementing a traceability system or at least recovering reliable information on their supplies of raw hides. Finding information relating to breeding and slaughtering activities is difficult also because there is still no regulatory constraint such as the one that requires the complete traceability of each animal for the food chain. But you can get there indirectly. “The mandatory commercial documents, which accompany European by-products of animal origin, and the health certificates for those coming from third countries, however, allow in almost all cases to trace the premise where the animal was slaughtered, for each single batch of leather”, explains UNIC – Italian Tanneries. The commitment of the most attentive tanneries therefore passes through the selection of reliable suppliers, the adoption of innovative leather tracking systems and the dissemination of voluntary certifications that guarantee customers the adoption of best practices.
Even at European level, things are moving at the highest levels. A European project has just started to create a traceability platform for the fashion, footwear and leather industry. An initiative that starts from the awareness that the fashion industry is among the most polluting in the world and that improving the transparency of its supply chain will help accelerate its transformation into a more sustainable, ethical and circular production model. As we explain in an article that you will find in the following pages, the basic idea is to have a more controlled and safer supply chain that will contribute to lower environmental impact but also to fight against the violation of labour and human rights laws, and even counterfeiting.
Moreover Cotance and UECB, the federations representing respectively European tanning and animal breeding, have recently started a cooperation project which plans to work on two lines. The first is animal welfare, for which Europe is already a leader in terms of legislation, standards and best practices. The second is exactly traceability with the initial aim of mapping the certification and audit systems available in the zootechnical supply chain, to understand how they connect to the tracking of hides.
In this Special Edition dedicated to leather traceability, we have given voice to some actors in the supply chain, from tanneries to brands, from research centres to certification institutes, to understand the state of the art in the sector on this theme.

A picture from the French traceability solution developed by CTC