Sustainability in the leather manufacture and material ecology

Flexible, laminar materials such as leather are tightly connected to the everyday life and consumer behaviour. Therefor, leather is subject to numerous media and public and technical discussion though with changing issues and intensity. Next to hygenic properties, sustainability in manufacture and use focal point of the discussion are ecologic and economic-ethical issues from a local as well as global point of view.

Especially for leather FILK is a competent, independent, non-profit research institution with high technological and material understanding. Next to R&D projects dealing with the improvement of product properties or technologies for their manufacture, ecological and hygienic aspects are subject of research activities.

Particularly with regard to material ecology of leather, in 1990 a project "Comparison of the ecological overall impact of different tanning technologies" provided extensive knowledge which is, till today, basis for ecological evaluation and auditing systems in the tanning and leather industry.

As translation of the results for non-experts a brochure was authored by  Prof Dr Günter Reich  „Ökologische Aspekte wichtiger Gerbverfahren“ which is avaiable at the publisher Forschungsgemeinschaft Leder e. V, Frankfurt.

Recent discourses about sustainability and ecology in an increasingly critical public brought various initiatives and activities into motion in the leather sector. The Leather Working Group, to name one, is pooling efforts of brands, leather manufacturers and their suppliers in order to strengthen and improve a responsible attitude towards the environment.

CO2 emissions and energy efficiency have established as further quality characterisitc for environmental sustainability. Inititiated by the German Leather Federation (VDL e.V.), the Forschungsgemeinschaft Leder e. V. has developed the worldwide first CO2 and energy label for tanneries called ECO2L (Energy Controlled Leather). This tool allowes for tanneries to visualise and compare their energetic performance and COemissions. At the same time approaches for contineous reduction of energy consumption and emissions is provided. FILK is engaged as certifying body for VDL.

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