Launching the EU SWITCH-Asia Programme for Sustainable Future of The Kolkata Tanneries

05 October 2020

A new initiative in West Bengal brings together a wide array of partners to support Kolkata tanneries to adopt cleaner, more sustainable leather practices. The 42-month project is funded by the European Union under the SWITCH-Asia Programme.

The project launch started from the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between CLC Tanners Association, Solidaridad and Dutch consortium on Bengal Business Conclave 2019, in the presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee and Finance, Industries and IT Minister, Dr. Amit Mitra. 

The West Bengal Government is taking strides towards a resource-efficient and circular economy, including within the leather industry. The launch of a new partnership will work towards this goal by supporting the Kolkata Leather Cluster to adopt cleaner and more sustainable production processes. 

The project—‘Effective waste management and sustainable development of the MSME tanning companies in Bantala leather cluster’—is a 42-month initiative funded by the European Union under its SWITCH-Asia Programme, which supports efforts for sustainable consumption and production across the Asia-Pacific region. This effort brings together partners across the sector including: Il Politecnico Internazionale per lo Sviluppo Industriale ed Economico (PISIE), the Calcutta Leather Complex Tanners Association (CLCTA), Stahl, Dugros and the European Union (EU).

Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee launches the EU Switch Asia programme for sustainable future of the Kolkata tanneries

At the September 23rd launch event, Dr. Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director for Solidaridad in Asia, remarked, “Covid-19 pandemic has made the issue of effective waste management even more significant today. Solidaridad has relentlessly worked towards pollution abatement, a key developmental challenge. Our leather portfolio has demonstrated how pollution-related issues can be addressed through a robust public-private partnership model. We are confident that this project would support inclusive enviro-friendly growth based on a waste to value creation.”

The project will adopt four key approaches:

  • Solidaridad will work with its partners and technical experts to demonstrate national and global eco-friendly and commercially viable practices and technologies with the objectives of promoting green tanning and waste management in the tanneries. 

  • The tannery workforce will be capacitated on better tanning practices, solid waste management and occupational health and safety through training-of-trainers programme. 

  • A public-private partnership platform will be established that represents the interests of the key stakeholders to collaboratively plan the roadmap for the improvement of the Bantala leather complex. 

  • The tanneries will be enabled to adopt green practices and technologies, thus, driving sustainable development of the cluster. 

The project will support tanneries to adopt cleaner, more sustainable production practices

The project complements the West Bengal government’s vision of making Bantala leather cluster into a leading leather geography in Asia.

The launch event enjoyed broad participation, ranging from European Commission, Dutch Government, the Italian Government and the Indian Government to national technical institutions of repute, with a common cause to benefit the tannery workers and the community. 

His Excellency Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India emphasized the business case for supporting businesses to become more sustainable, as well as the benefits of partnering across governments and sectors for greater exchange or expertise and technology.

We are happy to support one of the biggest leather clusters in India in its efforts to become more sustainable, while minimising impact on the environment, protecting surrounding communities and workers.” - His Excellency Ugo Astuto

Among the event attendees, there was wide ranging appreciation and support for the collaborative nature of the project, and the opportunity to show the economic and environmental benefits of green solutions within the industry. 

Read more about our work in Leather.

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