Renewable chemicals: replacing fossil-based by biobased ingredients

We promote the use of leather chemicals based on bio-based ingredients and we innovate with chemicals with higher renewability by replacing fossil-based materials by bio-based alternatives. The final goal is to have leather chemicals which are completely of renewable origin.

We aim for those innovative new renewable or bio-based (wholly or partially) leather chemicals to provide excellent leather performance, can be easily handled by tanneries during the leather making process and can be processed well in the effluent treatment with a minimal environmental footprint.

What bio-based materials can be used to replace petrochemicals?

Royal Smit & Zoon uses a wide range of classical and new innovative renewable / bio-based ingredients for its products. For example: 

  1. Technical fish oil from by-products from food industry that are not suitable for use in human food or animal feed.

    For most of its history Royal Smit & Zoon has used fish oil. Fish oil goes back to the start of our company in 1821 by Albert Smit, when the main trading products were dried codfish, salted herring and medicinal cod liver oil. Today, Royal Smit & Zoon uses a technical fish oil from by-products from food industry that are not suitable for use in human food or animal feed. This means that, unlike almost all other vegetable or animal oils, the use of this type of oil does not compete in any way with use for human food. The by-products originate from farmed fish. This means that the production of this oil does not have a relation with the environmental risks related to wild catch fisheries, like depletion of species, damaging of seafloors, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing etc.

  2. Vegetable oils and vegetable-based products

    Examples of vegetable oils or products of vegetable/ plant origin are wheat flour, lecithin, synthetic lanoline from bio-based materials, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soy bean oils, and molasses, just to name the main products.

  3. Forestry production delivers both classic ingredients such as lignosulphonate but also next generation ingredients as lignin for use as bio-aromatics. We are engaged with partners who only use certified, sustainably grown woody biomass that are not only produced sustainably and efficiently but also preserves the biodiversity of the forests.
  4. Innovative materials, such as pectins from beet pulp.
renewability whitepaper

Learn more about renewable materials in leather making and download our whitepaper


The criteria for our bio-based solutions are

  • Sustainably sourced renewable raw materials 
  • Sound performance on effluent [*] 
  • High level of bio-based raw materials in the type of product 
  • Safety for both the tannery as and the environment  
  • Fulfilment of highest quality standards by ZDHC level 3 certification. 
  • Taking minimizing supply chain and process complexity into consideration. 
  • Taking end of life of chemicals and leather into consideration.

Royal Smit & Zoon uses the Mass Balance approach to indicate the renewability level of its chemicals.
[*] This is based on Royal Smit & Zoon Product Passport definitions and standardized testing definitions. Effluent values are dependent on the specific article process and the tannery set-up and resources.  

Interesting for you

Discover more on Renewability
Renewable chemicals



Stay informed

Receive the latest company news and industry updates