According to its website, AWI is a Washington-based non-profit organisation whose goals include ‘abolishing factory farms and achieving humane slaughter for all animals raised for meat.
Moving further along the production chain, Sonia Kashmiri is a leathergoods designer who, disillusioned with the prevailing ethics and standards in the world of trainer design, has created an ethical company. London based Kashmiri spent over a year looking for suppliers and factories that met her requirements.
She showed her bags at the recent London Fashion Week which  now use Italian veg-tanned leather with a certified organic cotton lining, and recycled leather from Germany for structural support. The workshop in Northern Portugal where they are made meets her production standards. Her bags retail for around £500 so we are not looking at the cheap option here.
A further trend of significance at the London Fashion Week was the emphasis on ecological and sustainable fashions. Estethica, in their fourth season, are a platform for eco-sustainable fashion, which promotes green brands and designers concerned with sustainability. This includes recycled materials, organic and sustainable fibres or those who adhere to ‘fair trade’ principles by producing their work in a safe and sustainable environment. This is a key trend in the marketing of high-end leathergoods, so tanners should work on promoting their ethical credentials to further
capture this market.
Environmental standards are no strangers to the large chemicals companies which serve our industry. Last month we published a story whereby BASF claimed to be the first company to present a comprehensive carbon balance for their operations. The results showed that BASF products can save three times more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire amount caused by the production and disposal of the company’s products.
BASF are also developing technologies and materials for sustainable climate protection. They spend one third of their total research and development budget in the area of energy efficiency which is around €400 million.
They have set themselves the aim of increasing energy efficiency for their production processes by 25% by the year 2020 when compared with 2002. According to Dr Harald Schwaiger: ‘This is a very ambitious goal but also a very important one. We see energy efficiency as the key to combining climate protection, conserving resources and achieving competitive advantage.’
In this he agrees with many in that increased efficiency and improved technology actually bring down costs because they help to eliminate waste.
ISA Tantec have found that by the simple procedure of monitoring everything they do and making their production system transparent, they have been able to reduce the carbon footprint of their leather processing at their Guangzhou plant.
And another pat on the back goes to Sadesa Thailand who were the first tannery in the world to be awarded the gold rating under the Leather Working Group’s environmental audit. The company say that through their SAFE (Sadesa Friendly Environmental) programme, they have been allocating more that 25% of investment to environmental protection for many years.
Shelagh Davy