Leader in the leather supply for lifestyle and athletic footwear, PrimeAsia runs two technologically highly advanced tanneries in Asia, one located in Dongguan (China) which guarantees a production capacity of 5 million square feet and the other near Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam, which thanks to recent extensions can produce up to 6 million sqare feet per month.
Strongly committed to environmental sustainability, PrimeAsia recently launched the “Responsibly Raised” project, to promote innovative practices capable of favouring traceability of the entire supply chain upstream of the tannery.
We talk about it with Fernando Bellese, Chief Sustainability Officer of Prime Asia.
Can you explain us the concept and goals of the ‘Responsibly Raised’ initiative?
“At PrimeAsia, we believe that our behavior and actions towards our suppliers can generate improved practices not only in our industry, but upstream in the supply chain, all the way to the farm level. With Responsibly Raised Initiative we identify and promote those projects and partners that are going one step further in developing new approaches that will result in a more sustainable and transparent supply chain. To be part of Responsibly Raised a supplier must ensure the better use of natural resources, demonstrate strict animal welfare standards, contribute to lower emissions, provide traceability back to the farm of birth and promote transparency through the use of third-part verification schemes. By promoting those practices to our customers and consumers, we believe that we can increase awareness towards more responsible practices and consequently encourage further improvements in the entire supply chain, all the way to farm level”.
Why leather traceability is so important on the market today?
“Not only for leather but in any industry, traceability has many advantages. The global market has become increasingly more demanding in terms of quality and product integrity. It is not enough anymore that you make a good product. It must also be done in a responsible way and you must be able to proof that your product complies with many different standards and regulations that may vary considerably between countries. If there is not a good traceability system in place, it is hard to have control against all those different requirements and moreover, to be able to be accountable for those variations. It is a matter of product safety and integrity.
In addition, traceability places an important role in risk management. By connecting the different links in the supply chain, as well as recording other information such as processes and raw materials used, we are able to design our actions around customers’ needs, helping them to avoid specific risks in their supply chain and generating more sustainable practices”.
When did you start to work on leather traceability and what are the main results you obtained so far?
“PrimeAsia has been working with traceability since long ago. We believe this is an important part of what we do. Traceability helped us to understand that only strong, long-term partnerships will yield in responsible, long-lasting results that can be translated into a more sustainable supply chain.
If our traceability system worked, but our partners were not be able to provide us with the right information, we would not achieve the results expected. So, it is a matter of developing shared values and approaches.
The same applies for sustainable practices and risk management, we need all the players involved in our value chain to be well aligned. Traceability helped us to develop those alignments and to increase accountability”.
We know that PrimeAsia has defined precise Sustainable Goals and already adopted systems to reduce energy, water and waste. What results have you achieved so far?
“Setting precise long-term goals helps PrimeAsia to have a clear idea of where we want to be in the future and organize the right actions to achieve those goals. Only in 2019, we were able to reduce in 16% the amount of water used per square foot of leather, increasing in 30% the amount of recycled water. We increased in 156% the amount of renewable energy used in our facilities and reduced in almost 28% the amount of waste generated per square foot of leather.
The social aspect is also an important part of our Sustainability Strategy. We look for ways of ensuring our collaborators are working in a safe environment, but moreover, are part of the transformation and improvements in our operation and communities where we are inserted.
We achieved in 2019 a total of 3830 community work hours with the participation of more than 600 collaborators. The projects in which our team were engaged includes food donation to impoverished elderly and children families, tree planting, environmental cleaning in different public areas and school maintenance services in China and Vietnam. By 2023 we expect to reach relevant goals such as achieving 70% of recycled water usage, 75% of renewable energy in our facilities among other goals.
We are also looking for ways of improving our traceability system even further to continue increasing the transparency of our supply chain. But again, it is important to emphasize that more important then the specific results themselves, is the mind set and approach to work towards those achievements through a long-term perspective”.