The family way – Pakistan’s Muhammad Shafi Tanneries15 July 2015
Although the global power ranking of leather exporters continues to shuffle in terms of which country has the upper hand, Pakistan’s long-standing industry has the added bonus of generation-spanning companies. Leather International looks at one such operation, Muhammad Shafi Tanneries, to see what makes its values stand out from the crowd.
Muhammad Shafi Tanneries, commonly known within the leather trade as Shafi, was established in 1959 and, since then, leather manufacturing has become more of an art form reliant on technology, as it is passed down through generations.
Today, second, third and fourth generations of the Shafi family are working together.
The company, based in Karachi, Pakistan, produces about 25 million square feet of leather annually, and is continuously adopting eco-friendly processes and technology during product development. Shafi's philosophy is to fulfil ethical responsibilities at all levels, and this immovable standard is instilled in its 1,000 employees.
For Shafi, a cleaner environment is not only related to wastewater but other areas like chemical handling, waste recycling and management, emergency plans and process control to ensure a minimum waste output throughout the process. Bearing this in mind, Shafi has consistently upgraded its products and environmental standards to ensure clean operations. In fact, it was the first tannery to install a chrome recovery plant in 1980 and, since then, it has been in successful operation with all the required upgrades to align it with new standards and regulations. Last year, Shafi decided to certify itself for ISO 14001 and it was also certified for ISO 14001:2004 in January 2014.
Shafi also works with many worldwide shoe brands, some of which are stakeholders whose objective is to develop and maintain a protocol that assesses the environmental compliance and performance capabilities of tanners, as well as to promote sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry.
In accordance with that ethos, Shafi found Leather Working Group (LWG), the international group that promotes environmental stewardship within the global leather industry, to be an important platform, and decided to apply for its membership and to achieve certification.
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Shafi has formed a compliance team consisting of chemists and chemical engineers who work in close coordination with reputed international laboratories and research institutes to ensure that all the latest legislation and restricted substances in leather are met, and the processes are updated accordingly as per new legislations. This ensures Shafi fulfils all protocols of LWG.
In order to fulfil the primary requirements of LWG and meet Pakistan's national environment quality standards (NEQS) for a wastewater treatment plant, Shafi started expanding its plant from a primary treatment plant to a secondary one in October 2014. It is the first tannery to run a wastewater treatment plant in Sindh. It has also been continuously investing in cutting-edge environmental technologies. Last year, for instance, Shafi invested €800,000 to fulfil a range of environmental challenges. As a result, it will earn its LWG certification later in 2015, making it the first tannery in Pakistan to achieve this certification.