UL is a leading American multinational company in the field of science and security, with a global network of more than 14,000 people who deal with compliance analysis, certification, inspection and audit services, and more generally solutions in the field of sustainability. “UL supports international companies by strengthening trust in an increasingly complex world”, explains Elisa Gavazza, Global Chemistry Lead, whom we asked some questions.

Elisa Gavazza, UL Global Chemistry Lead

What services does UL offer to the Italian tanning sector?
“UL’s Italian headquarter for analysis and services dedicated to the tanning industry is based in Cabiate, in the province of Como. From here we support brands, manufacturers and importers by offering services to verify the compliance of leather items, clothing, bags and footwear with the requirements of global markets, as well as solutions to undertake a path of corporate sustainability. From the earliest stages of design, we carry out rigorous analyses to help companies create items that meet ever higher safety and quality levels and place successful products on the market. Thanks to state-of-the-art equipment, we offer chemical, eco-toxicological and physical-mechanical assessments. But, outside of our laboratory, we count on a team of professionals who travel throughout the country to locally support the sector’s requests and needs”.

What experience have you acquired in this specific area?
“Our consolidated collaboration with the tanning sector allows us to be partners of companies and brands along the entire supply chain, from the production of the chemicals used in the processing of leather to the finished product. One of UL’s strengths is undoubtedly its great experience in the chemical field from a global point of view: thanks to this we have supported several companies by providing fundamental ideas to solve problems related to RSL (Restricted Substances Lists) compliance and MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) requests from companies in the sector. UL is also a member of the UNI/CT013 technical working groups “Leather, hides and leather goods” and WG01 “Chemical products for leather” as a contributor for the review and development of new standard tests on leather goods and chemicals used in the leather compartment”.

What is the path you take whenever a tannery turns to you for chemical management?
“First of all, it is necessary to undertake a first knowledge path of the tannery that contacts us as well as an in-depth understanding of the reasons that lead the tannery to request our services. Often when companies turn to us, they have already started an implementation path of chemical management but have difficulty in solving specific issues related, for example, to understanding what may be the sources of wastewater pollution that generate certain non-conformities during the tests carried out in accordance with the ZDHC guidelines.  In this case, UL is able to provide competent and targeted support while remembering that the success of this research comes from a four-handed work carried out by the laboratory and the company itself. It is nice to see synergies arise with the common goal of reducing the impact of tanning production on the environment and human health. Compared to the activity we carry out as a test laboratory, the support in solving specific problems related to the implementation of chemical management really allows us to establish a collaborative relationship with companies. This increases mutual knowledge and mutual trust in order to achieve a common goal”.

 We know that UL is a contributor to ZDHC. You provide the famous ZDHC certifications of compliance which today are highly requested by the brands…

“Textile and leather industries are under increasing pressure to reduce the impact on the environment and improve the sustainability of the production chain. The release into wastewater of dangerous chemicals used during the various stages of the production process is a particular critical aspect.

UL has joined the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Programme, supporting its vision and mission to implement sustainable chemistry in the textile, leather and footwear sectors, to protect consumers, laboratories and the environment around us. Our laboratory based in Cabiate is approved by ZDHC for wastewater and sludge analysis in connection with the ZDHC Gateway – Wastewater Module. Moreover, we are accredited providers for ZDHC Level 1 MRSL compliance usable on the Chemical Gateway (the ZDHC portal through which companies can share the results of water and sludge tests with brands). Through this compliance it can be demonstrated that the chemical formulation used in the production processes does not contain chemicals included in the list of prohibited substances.

Several UL offices around the world are part of the laboratories accepted by ZDHC and this certainly confirms the quality of our work. UL laboratories are also recognised as performing chemical compliance certifications to MRSL. Certifications that can then be used by chemical manufacturers to register their products in the Chemical Gateway – the same portal we were talking about earlier which is structured in two sections, one dedicated to wastewater and sludge tests and the other one to certifications of chemical products”.

You also provide training. Could you deepen this aspect?
“Our Italian and international experts can offer different types of technical seminars useful to brands and their suppliers in various languages, to deepen specific issues or stay updated on legislative news in the sector. In this delicate period, our courses have all been converted into digital mode.  ZDHC has also recognised a list of globl UL experts to present official courses on chemical management in the textile and leather industry and wastewater management. To date we have trained hundreds of operators in this area and we will continue also during the next months by drawing up a calendar of courses open to all those who want to acquire more skills in this sector to bring effective benefits to their company”.

To find out more, please visit  www.ul.com

The UL laboratories of Cabiate