The country has a sufficiently varied industry that, combined with its natural resources, enable it to deal with tasks and opportunities resulting from the need to be more sustainable. By integrating new technologies and continuous improvement of production processes, the leather sector is seeking to add productivity gains with employment generation and the efficient use of resources.
The Brazilian energy matrix is one of the cleanest in the world – almost half of the consumed energy comes from renewable sources: 75% from hydroelectricity and the rest from biomass, solar energy and ethanol – which is a global model for production, distribution and use, in addition to water resources’ availability, fertile land abundance, among others.
In addition, the achievement of public policies related to environmental issues is gaining international attention. A survey, carried out by the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the NGO Globe International, emphasises the adoption of the new Brazilian Forest Code as one of the most significant measures in 2012 to fight climate change in the world.
Besides the approval of the forestry code, the study also highlights the country’s commitment to reducing Amazon deforestation by 80% by 2020 – a bold target when compared to most of the initiatives being developed by other countries.
The constant investment in social inclusion, in accordance with current legislation, is also part of the country’s development and growth of business. Brazilian industry seeks for a diverse and global workforce, respecting the differences among employees and making no distinction between age, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Brazilian leather sector
In the same pathway, the Brazilian tanning industry has been demonstrating its commitment to business sustainable management. The industry is continuously motivated to fine-tune its sustainability tools and strategies for the improvement of its activities.
The evolution achieved over the years in the application of these concepts can be seen along the production chain and is recognised internationally. Brazil is one of the countries with the highest number of tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group, a multi-stakeholder group aimed at the development of best environmental practises and a protocol to assess the performance of the certified tanneries. Not forgetting to mention that most of the certified plants in Brazil have very good grades for traceability, a challenge for other countries around the world which have difficulties in achieving the same success.
The sector is continuously improving its environmental performance in areas such water consumption, management, treatment of wastewater effluents, emission reduction, raw materials traceability and waste disposal among others.
"With these initiatives, we want to ensure greater transparency of our businesses and encourage our partners to expand and enhance their responsibility to society", says José Fernando Bello, executive president of the Centre for the Brazilian Tannery (CICB). "These actions will certainly bring more credibility and strength to the entire sector, with positive effects on the industry, the environment, and the public. Brazil is a land of great opportunity, ready to take its place as a global leader and high-technology hot spot for innovation and investment", he concludes.
CICB is the organiser of the CICB Sustainability Forum. The event takes place once a year, getting together some of the greatest specialists in the enviromental, social and economic issues of the leather sector worldwide. In 2013, full registration and professionals from different countries and sectors, composed the second edition of the event. More than 600 people attended the panels presented by some of the greatest experts in the world on current and innovative themes within the sustainability tripod.
A notable audience – with massive attendance and very active participation – the meeting demonstrated the wide interest and concern of the leather and footwear industry related to sustainability issues. Its interdisciplinary format has motivated the debate and brought together numerous experiences within a topic that gathers the economic, social and environmental pillars.

Tannery wastes
The disposal of waste is a main concern of the Brazilian leather industry and the importance of technological measures to combat the environmental challenges is being recognised by the entire sector.
The adoption of environmentally friendly waste-to-energy recycling technologies has become an important tool for the industry. Waste can be viewed as a valuable resource, such as a substrate for the production of value added products (ie an organic fertiliser). Peles Minuano is one example of a tannery which has managed to add value to its waste.