Industry Spotlight: Leather Industry Moving Towards Increased Sustainability
Can leather ever be sustainable?
It’s a question that’s being asked more frequently as many executives make sustainability a cornerstone of their businesses. The durability, texture and luxurious look of leather make it a highly desirable material in the apparel and footwear industries. Because traditional leather is often made as a by-product of the meat industry, the answer to this question is complicated. Leather makers are taking steps to respond though, and their work is showing great signs of progress.
The process of creating leather involves several chemicals, some of which have complex structures that carry a higher carbon footprint. The industry acknowledges that reducing the impact of these components is as priority. LANXESS, a top company in the leather chemicals world, has been leading the charge the past few years with its Sustainable Leather Management Initiative. The program works to develop chemical systems based on renewable raw materials, improving the leather making process with reduced energy and water consumption and honing leather’s durability and recycling possibilities. LANXESS is also committed to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) and to working with likeminded brands to maintain a list of Manufacturing Restricted Substances (MRSL). Both initiatives address substances that could be released into the environment during manufacturing, not just those that end up in finished products.
Other innovators in the apparel arena are looking for ways to create leather without relying on the meat industry. Modern Meadow is one such company. They’re working to “re-imagine” leather as an animal and Earth-friendly material. The biofabrication company is growing leather built from collagen protein in its labs and hopes to commercialize the material in the next few years. In addition to the environmental benefits, lab-grown leather can offer new textures and looks that nature can’t provide. This could open a new slew of options for the fashion world.
Micro-Pak is committed to sustainability in our own operations and to encouraging it in the brands with which we work. Since 2010, our mission has been to genuinely and systematically eliminate any negative environmental impacts of our business. We’ve been able to determine the impacts of our products, develop a plan to improve and add resources to help. We’re looking forward to continued innovations in the leather industry that will benefit our apparel and footwear partners around the world.