Tanners endorse the move towards biobased chemicals

Worldwide
Published:  29 September, 2022
Credit: Consorzio Vera Pelle Italiana Conciata Al Vegetale

ILM conducted its annual tanner business confidence survey in late July and the results are now published. In the 2022 survey their opinions on recent trends towards more biobased carbon content chemicals, biodegradable leathers and metal-free tanning systems were expressed.

According to the survey results, 84% of tanners surveyed said that they are or will be actively looking to source leather chemicals with a complete or partially higher biobased content than existing chemicals which have a fossil-carbon content. This confirms recent trends and launches by a number of leather chemical companies in this area and will help tanners reduce their overall carbon footprints without losing the performance characteristics of the finished leather. Leather itself, is in a great position compared with synthetics or plastic based or blended (so-called vegan) materials as the substrate (hide/skin) starts as a 100% biobased carbon material. 

Although metal-free and in particular chrome-free tannages, are tough to replace a mix of new proposed EU legislation around chrome VI limits coupled with a desire for alternative tanning systems is clearly on the minds of tanners. In the ILM survey, 69% of respondents said that they were planning to move towards metal-free tanning systems for part or all of their production in the next year.  

Making leather which fits with a fully circular environmental system is also generating some interest among tanners. Although one of the key features of well-made leather is its longevity in use, there is also shift towards providing brands and retailers with leather which is fully biodegradable at end-of-life. From the results of ILM 2022 tanners survey, 57% said that they were considering providing leathers which were biodegradable. However, it should be noted that 43% have no intention of going down this route currently.  

The full ILM 2022 Tanner Business Confidence Survey results can be found here for ILM subscribers or they are published in the September/October 2022 print edition. To subscribe to ILM email Kate Tornelli kate@edifydigitalmedia.com for more information.