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Leather and the Environment

Waste not, want not

The leather industry as a whole is responsible for generating huge amounts of waste as a by-product of its production. Take a tonne weight of hide, for instance, used to produce traditional leather.  One tonne generates up to 255kg of finished, tanned leather but almost three-quarters of a tonne is classed as waste. Meanwhile, harmful oil-based chemicals are used in the creation of bonded leather.

However there is a corner of the industry that is geared to forging a more ecologically responsible method of leather production at every stage.  

Composition leather:
Saving waste and resources every step of the way

A leading supplier of composition leather, E-Leather®, has pioneered an environmentally friendly leather fibre material that has already made its way into many everyday products and applications, from airline seats to shoes. It takes off-cuts, shavings and trimmings, which are usually discarded by tanneries and would otherwise go to landfill, and recycles them to make its composition leather, E-Leather®.

No chemicals needed

Another crucial difference between these methods and those employed by manufacturers of conventional bonded leather is that no chemicals are used whatsoever in the process of bonding the leather fibres together to form a sheet of material. Just use water alone.

Using a high-pressure water jet process has major environmental advantages. The supplier’s carbon footprint is dramatically reduced as a result because there are no oil-based adhesives present in the process. E-Leather®, for instance, produces no harmful wastewaters in the manufacture of its composition leather. Their process is a continuous closed-looped system, with 95% of all water produced used in production being recycled.

Saving energy
In addition, product emissions at the E-Leather®  plant in the form of solvents are thermally oxidated and the energy generated fed back into the manufacturing process. Its thermal oxidiser has cut natural gas use by between 50-70%.

What all of this means for many leading companies is that the production methods of composition leather manufacturers such as E-Leather®  are able to be perfectly aligned with their own eco initiatives in cutting waste and reducing their carbon footprint.

Summary of composition leather’s eco advantages

  • Up to 50% less CO2 emissions
  • Up to 95% recycled water in process
  • Up to 50%-70% natural gas usage
  • Less landfill
  • No adhesives in textile core