The award, sponsored by the American Home Furnishings Alliance and Cargill’s BiOH Polyols, was presented on December 6, at the All-Industry Sustainability Summit in Asheville, NC.

Zenda Leather, which is based in Montevideo, Uruguay, was founded in 1890 and operates 13 plants and commercial offices in Argentina, Mexico, Germany, South Africa and Uruguay. It has a 50,000 sqft US distribution center in Hickory, NC. All of Zenda’s manufacturing facilities hold ISO 14001 management certifications regarding activities with an environmental impact.

Its Uruguay facility has the largest waste treatment plant of its kind in Latin America and they treat about two million litres of water per day. Biological sludge from the Uruguay plant is used as organic fertiliser for local farmland. Rainwater accounts for 7% of the plant’s total water consumption.

In 2008, Zenda eliminated their need to buy power from an outside source by opening the first private energy plant in Uruguay. Zenda have also developed products such as chrome-free leather in the tanning process.

The award was judged by a group representing the furniture and bedding industry, environmental and business journalists and sustainability experts.

The AHFA said several Sage judges recognised that while the leather industry is not generally considered an environmentally conscious performer, Zenda raises the bar for those manufacturers.

In addition to the Sage Award plaque, Zenda receives US$2,500 from Cargill BiOH polyols to be donated to a charitable organisation of their choice. Zenda joins Hickory Chair and Copeland Furniture as past Sage winners.