A progressive and green industry11 January 2010
In recent years many involved in the leather industry have taken great strides to become more responsible global citizens. These strides are positive for the industry as well as for those individual companies that have taken action to make change. Many tanners have made investments in facilities, equipment and process. As importantly, our industry must continue to make change beyond bricks and mortar and capital investment. We must make areas such as conservation, efficiencies of resources, and waste stream management part of our every day philosophies.
Change is not driven by chance or circumstance, it is driven by
necessity. The necessity is to stay current with ever changing and
challenging global regulation, while recognising the need to satisfy a
new savvy and educated global consumer. This new consumer is ultra
informed. This new consumer is demanding of a cleaner and safer
world. This new consumer has little tolerance for taking risks with
anything to do with the planet. Today’s consumer understands that
environmental impacts are an issue regardless of where they occur
within the supply chain.
For centuries, the leather industry was a collection of businesses
spread throughout the world working very hard to craft one of
the most difficult raw materials to ever be used in mass production.
The process was complex, the investment great, and at the end of
the day value was placed on the end product, not necessarily the
process. Over the last several decades many understood that taking
responsibility for the process was necessary; necessary from a legislation
standpoint or from an ethical standpoint or in many cases a combination of the two. Others, due to lack of an enforced regulation or the lack of understanding their responsibility, continued to produce and sell their leathers to markets around the world.
As a result, the market place was anything from level.
Tanners who were making investments in an effort to be responsible global citizens
were right there selling, toe to toe, with those that did not feel the
same responsibility, or may have felt the responsibility but did not have
the financial resources to make positive environmental change. Today,
through the pressures of informed buyers and consumers, growing
global environmental regulation and the creation of such industry
groups as the Leather Working Group, the industry is evolving. More
purchase decisions are being made on a new value equation. The value
equation has always included cost, quality, service and innovation.
Today’s new value package has the added element of global
responsibility and with this comes a new level of accountability.
The tanning industry has made great change. It is in our collective
interest to continue to embrace the challenges and take responsibility
for our entire operational footprints as we work to teach the world
that the leather industry can run a safe, clean and environmentally
progressive global industry.
Jonathan Clark, CEO, PrimeAsia