HomeKnowledgeChemicals & substancesHow to achieve and prove sustainability in chemicals?

How to achieve and prove sustainability in chemicals?

Every fabric used in the production of shoes, leather goods, furniture, car interior, garments, or other areas which use flexible material uses chemicals to make the final material. Even natural materials such as organic textile or leather use chemicals to give the final material a performance.

Proven adaption of chemicals and processes

To attain more sustainable production of leather also the chemicals and processes need to be adapted or redesigned. How to do this and just as important: how to prove this?

LCA as the preferred tool

Nice words and empty promises are less and less accepted (‘greenwashing’). Brands and their suppliers expect that sustainability improvements in processes and chemical usage are proven with numbers and certifications. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a preferred tool. An LCA is complex and costly to use for every chemical company, individual tannery, product, and article. For chemical suppliers there are more ways to prove sustainability and renewability, such as:

  • ZDHC certification of chemicals.
  • The mass balance method, the so-called C14 method or LCA. This method gives an indication on the renewability.

Eco-design for Eco-leather

How to achieve eco-leather? It comes down to perform an eco-design with the right chemicals (better LCA or higher renewability and ZDHC compliant), while improving water management and energy management. Per article, the data is collected beforehand and then matched with the redesign process and even with data per batch made. It is not quick and easy, but each improved process and article will add up. A drop makes a difference.

Eco-design is a new factor that drives quality and sustainable efficiency. Already performed at the end of the 19th century by entrepreneur and industrial-like Andrew Carnegie.

From “Renewability and Sustainability in the leather industry” by Arnaud Backbier, Global Commercial Director Royal Smit & Zoon.

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