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The day debate about leather’s carbon footprint changed for ever
2018/4/20 13:29:28 Source: Leatherbiz Author: 点击率:

If Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano has described April 18, 2018, as “a very important day for the leather industry”, everyone in the sector should sit up and take notice. Secretary-general of COTANCE, the industry’s voice in the European Union, Mr Gonzalez-Quijano is one of the best known figures in the global industry and most will agree that he is not someone who is prone to exaggeration.

The reason 18.4.18 will be remembered as a significant date in leather history is that this was the day when rules COTANCE has spent five years developing for calculating the environmental footprint of leather won official approval from the EU. COTANCE has thanked the people and organisations, including World Leather, that helped it form a technical secretariat for this project

A transition phase will begin now and run until 2020 to allow time to introduce formal policies around the rules.

There are three deeply important consequences of this development.

First, EU approval means the product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCR) that COTANCE and its partners, most notably Italian tanning industry association UNIC, painstakingly put together can now become the officially recognised method for calculating the environmental footprint of leather.

Secondly, leather comes off significantly better with the PEFCR method than with other calculations that finished-product brands and campaign groups have been bandying around for years, particularly with regard to the upstream carbon footprint of a hide. Some groups have used their figures to argue against the use of leather in finished products or to justify a switch to synthetics. After 18.4.18, their calculations are shot to pieces and should never be used in any serious analysis again.

Thirdly, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano made it clear from the start of the exercise in 2013 that establishing an official method for calculating leather’s environmental footprint represented “a unique opportunity for the global leather industry” and would set a precedent “that our industry needs globally”. Therefore, the new rules provide a tool that everyone in the leather industry throughout the world will be able to benefit from.

Mr Gonzalez-Quijano has told leatherbiz that some major European tanners have already requested information to allow them to carry out product environmental footprint calculations for their leathers. More widely, he said the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation has also expressed interest in promoting the PEFCR.

In addition, he told us COTANCE had agreed with the European Commission for the leather PEFCR to be made into an online tool that will make it easy for even the smallest tannery to calculate its environmental footprint. This tool will be available towards the end of the year, according to European Commission officials.

“This augurs well for the a quick uptake by frontrunners,” he said. “Once major companies in our value chain recognise the value and the benefit of the leather PEFCR it will not take long to become widespread.”

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