Scientists at the Central Leather Research Institute (CSIR) in Chennai, India, have developed a technology to make high-grade gelatine from materials that otherwise would have been disposed of.

Effective ways to eliminate tannery waste are becoming more viable and the waste from local leather tanneries is another example of how waste can be utilised to make new products as well as reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Gelatine, widely used in the pharmaceutical and food industries, is usually made from collagen extracted from animal bones and pig skins, and the CSIR have successfully produced gelatine from collagen protein from skin and hide remains used for leather.

"Conventionally, these solid wastes are otherwise processed and cooked for long hours to produce industrial gelatine, which is of low value," commented senior scientist B Madhan. "In this case, we have hydrolysed or processed it in a controlled manner to obtain gelatine of high gel strength required for capsule making. With one ton of animal skin processed for leather manufacture, there would be 50kg of trimming waste, from which we can make about 10kg of gelatine."

CSIR-CLRI director A B Mandal said they are in the process of patenting the technology that could not only be an alternative method to make gelatine, but a means to reduce tannery waste, which is estimated to be about 700,000t every year, 10% of which as solid wastes.