The State Department of China is carrying out the first national investigation of pollution and the Standards for Limits of Harmful substance in Leather and Fur will be implemented from December 1, 2007.
The Chinese government wants exporters to include the cost of effluent treatment into their products and let the international consumer pay for it, thus removing the pollution problem from China. Exporters have to comply with the regulations or be suspended from exporting.
There have been a number of rumours to the effect that many tanneries in the Wenzhou area in China are closing because of pollution control. The Chinese tanners in the area are being very strictly controlled and some tanners are said to have ended up in jail. All this has been enough for many to reduce their activities.
A Swiss newspaper reports that in association with the EU, China is starting a campaign to clean up the Yellow and Blue rivers in an effort to reduce the industrial pollution of these waters. These severe anti pollution campaigns which have hit the leather industry could work to the advantage of the leather industry elsewhere.
The national authorities are also going to issue the standards for establishment of new tanneries.Solving the problem of environment protection has become the prerequisite for the survival and the development of the tanning industry in China.
On a positive note, a 100% German owned tannery in Guangzhou, China, has taken up the challenge. ISA Tan Tec have developed the LITE Leather branded product line to help ‘the world environment while producing high performance leather products with Low Impact To the Environment’. The LITE concept applies to all leathers being produced at their tannery, where they are measuring every possible production stage and its environmental impact. They are measuring CO2 emissions and found that, just by doing this, they have reduced their emissions by 30%.
According to industry sources, the European Union, USA, Japan and other countries have again asked both the government of Pakistan and industrialists to adopt urgent measures for setting up effluent treatment plants to cover all the five industrial areas of Karachi. At the same time, they warned that failure to do so could find non-compliant factories losing export orders.
Despite the newly opened Combined Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for a cluster of tanneries in the Korangi Industrial Area, it was stated that out of 200 tanneries located in the five industrial areas in Karachi, only half that number were discharging sewage after proper waste treatment. Failure to comply would adversely affect the country’s leather industry which is already beset by the problem of competitiveness in the world market.
The Ministry of Industries prepared a plan three years ago to set up five ETPs in the industrial areas of Karachi. However, as no stakeholder, including the federal government,the city government, or even the private sector, took responsibility for the project it remained in limbo.
Among other leather processing countries,India has been working for some time to solve the problems of pollution and is currently pursuing the ideal of zero liquid discharge. The annual LERIG scientific conference held by the CLRI in Chennai early last year was devoted to benign environmental and sustainable technologies BEST) for the leather sector.
Shelagh Davy