On 18 April 2018, the Leather Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (Leather PEFCR) were officially approved by the Environmental Footprint Steering Committee. The establishment of the Leather PEFCR represents a major milestone in coming to a harmonised methodology for the calculation of the environmental footprint of leather made from hides and skins of animals slaughtered for the production of meat, which represents 95%+ of all leathers traded worldwide.

COTANCE Secretary General Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano: “We will finally see a robust, credible and transparent LCA methodology come to life to accurately and consistently assess our sector’s ecological footprint. Although there is still some “unfinished business” in the PEF methodology, such as the issue of 0-allocation for hides and skins of slaughter animals, the current rules will allow leather manufacturers to demonstrate their capacity to help reduce environmental impacts linked to their production.”

0-allocation to hides and skins, as a by-product of animals slaughtered for meat production, is though fully acknowledged in the CEN Standard EN 16887 (approved in Nov 2016, published in March 2017, applicable not later than Sept 2017) Leather – Environmental footprint – Product Category Rules (PCR) – Carbon footprints. It sets the Product Category Rules for the Carbon Footprint of leather. The PEF looks, however, not only at the issue of Climate Change but addresses also many more environmental impact categories, serving thus the users to get a comprehensive approach for the eco-design of their leathers. 

The EF pilot phase will culminate in the EU PEF conference on 23-25 April 2018 after which all approved PEFCRs will be published. A transition phase will follow until 2020, where the lessons of this 4-year Environmental Footprint Pilot Phase will be drawn and possible policy options will be considered. COTANCE will remain involved in the further methodological developments as well as in the policy debate, notably through the “Apparel and Footwear Cluster” that it has promoted and that it will be chairing next to other 6 clusters bringing together the various Product Pilots. 

The 2012 UNIDO Report titled Life Cycle Assessment, Carbon Footprint in Leather Processing prepared for and presented by F. Brugnoli during the XVIII Session of UNIDO Leather and Leather Products Industry Panel in Shanghai in 2012, kicked off the work of the leather industry in the area of LCA producing detailed explanations, definitions, methodological approaches and terminology pertaining to leather’s footprint.

COTANCE President Thomas Bee: “Europe’s leather sector can be extremely proud of delivering a comprehensive toolbox after several years of hard work. I would like to thank our Italian colleagues for their leadership role and all member associations and companies that supported the Technical Secretariat of the Leather PEFCR as well as all value chain partners and stakeholders that have supported the process.”