Thursday, 18 September 2014

Leather: The original recycled material

We of the leather industry are often criticized for being part of an encroachment on nature. Vegetarians and animal-lovers hype it into “killing for fashion”

The fact is that the leather used by us is a by-product of the meat industry. No animals are raised for leather production and we are just recycling the hides and skins from the slaughter of animals for food. If leather was banned, it would create an enormous amount of waste hides and skins to be disposed with all the accompanying health hazard.

In fact leather is the original attempt at recycling and humanity has been recycling since time immemorial. The process is not perfect, but we are getting closer.

Yes, the tanning process must be environment conscious. The tanneries we work with consciously try and reduce their environmental footprint. Fortunately, new technologies and the use of biodegradable tannins or vegetable tannins are making that possible.

Environmentalists need to understand that leather is a natural recyclable resource, which if not used may be replaced by non-renewable synthetic materials. It may well be that long lasting leather products are actually more environment friendly than, say, plastics.

In managerial terms we may compare “Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)” of modern managers with “Total Environmental Impact (TEI)” and we may well see that long lasting leather products have a better TEI than plastics and many other synthetic materials.

The leather industry is one of the biggest contributors to the Indian economy with the annual turnover of US$ 11 billion. It is also an employment intensive sector providing jobs to about 2.5 million people, majorly from the weaker sections of our still poor Country. 

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