Leather

The leather sector, processing hides and skins into shoes, clothing, furniture, horse saddles and car seats among others, is huge. Every year, around 1.5 billion square meters of leather is produced worldwide with an estimated value of around € 40 billion.

Challenges

Leather processing takes place in almost every country in the world with millions of people working in this industry. This comes with considerable social and environmental challenges in each step of the chain, from livestock farming to slaughterhouses, tanneries and manufacturing

The production of leather at tannery level is accompanied by serious pollution of air, soil and certainly water, which can gravely affect the surrounding area as well as its inhabitants. Looking at the full value chain, it is difficult to think of any sustainability issue that is not relevant for the leather sector: social, economic and environmental challenges are prevalent in each step of the value chain.

Solutions

Solidaridad brings people in and around the leather supply chain together to find, test and share solutions worldwide. We are confident that cooperation in the supply chain is crucial to promote sustainability, so in our projects we’re working together with important local and international partners.

We work together with small-scale and large-scale tanners, the actors that actually need to make the change, and involve the key leather brands in the programme in order to cover the market perspective.

In our programme we address sustainable production at various stages of the leather supply chain. We promote the adoption of environmental, social and economic practices and support an enabling environment. Think of improved slaughter practices and facilities, alternative technologies and processes to reduce environmental impacts from tanneries, better quality control, a secured uptake of quality hides and skins by the market and quality based payment.

We focus on cooperation between actors to promote continuous improvement as we are convinced that a lot more is needed than certification. We actively call upon leather buying companies to step in, support programmes like ours and become part of the solution.

Portfolio

Solidaridad is currently implementing the following projects in our leather programme.

  • Green Tanning Initiative: a 3-year project to improve production practices in Ethiopia:

    Solidaridad has partnered with leather chemicals supplier Stahl and CSR Netherlands to implement the Leather Green Tanning Initiative (GTI) in Ethiopia. This is a three-year programme, co-funded by the European Union, aiming to promote cleaner technologies that reduce the environmental impact of leather processing. To promote technology transfer of improved technologies and practices to local support institutions, Solidaridad works closely with the Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) and the Ethiopian Leather Exporters Association (ELIA).  

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  • A cleaner Ganges: a 5-year tannery project to reduce pollution from the Kanpur leather sector:

    Solidaridad, leather chemicals supplier Stahl and PUM Netherlands senior experts and a number of Indian partners officially launched a public-private partnership to clean up the Ganges. This five-year project aims to address several challenges related to overall water use and pollution from the Kanpur leather cluster, which is partly responsible for pollution loads in the Ganges.

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Contact Information

Gert van der Bijl

International Programme Coordinator, Livestock

't Goylaan 15, 3525 AA Utrecht, The Netherlands