Hans` perspective: Have we lost common sense?

Hans van Haarst, CEO Royal Smit & Zoon

Vegan leather or plastic?

During my latest business trip, I picked up a magazine and my eye fell on a short text with the title “ vegan leather – A Bag of Apples”. By now, one would assume that everyone understands that this is an oxymoron and that the term “leather”  is inappropriately used. In addition, in some countries, it is even forbidden to use it in this context.

After further investigation on the company’s website, I learned that the material is a concoction of apple juice production waste, polyurethane, and viscose. And yes, the majority is plastic (that material that ends up in our oceans and does not decompose). Furthermore, the material is produced in Europe, shipped to India to manufacture the bags, then shipped back to Europe for selling bags in local shops.

In our industry, we are all fully aware of the pressure on reducing CO2 emissions, conserving fossil fuels, and reducing costs. How come this proposition makes sense to the end consumer?  If you do not want to buy a leather bag, buy an alternative that makes environmental sense – there are many of these available today. Obviously, I would suggest you buy a leather bag, made of the by-product of the food industry, which is durable, repairable, and can be upcycled – just to name a few attributes.

Let`s share the right message!

I recognize that with this sarcastic column,  I’m preaching to the converted. However, as an industry, we have a long way to go to get our message out. There are excellent organizations that will do this for us (Leather Naturally, Sustainable Leather Foundation, and One for Leather, to name a few).

Join them, support them and help correct the misleading messages and half-truths which are displayed on social media every day.

By doing it we create a socially and environmentally sustainable leather value chain, together.

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