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Leather’s carbon footprint: the rules explained
2018/4/20 13:47:56 Source: Leatherbiz Author: 点击率:

The fact that it has taken COTANCE and its technical steering committee five years to win approval of its method for calculating the environmental footprint of leather is a clear indication that the process is complicated.

On the plus side, the European Commission has agreed to help convert the new rules into a simple-to-use online tool, which will make it easy for even very small leather manufacturers to calculate the environmental footprint of the material they produce. The Commission has said this tool should be available before the end of 2018.

These EU-approved product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCR) for leather base their calculations on a mix of models. It takes into account only cattle, sheep and goats because COTANCE has successfully argued that more than 95% of all the leather in the world comes from these three sources.

In the case of all three types of animal, milk takes the bulk of the share of the environmental footprint at the farming stage.

For cattle, the rules state that milk must take 88% of this upstream environmental footprint, while the other 12% carries forward to the slaughterhouse. Of that 12%, the main product from the slaughterhouses activity, meat, has to take the burden of almost all of the carried-forward carbon footprint. The hide’s share is 3.5% of the 12% carried forward, 0.42% of the total upstream carbon footprint.

The share for the skins of sheep and goats is even lower. For these animals, milk takes a share of 73.85% of the environmental footprint at the farming stage, but wool and hair fibres account for 23.64%. This means only 2.51% of the animal’s upstream carbon footprint carries forward to slaughter.

Once again, at slaughter, meat takes almost all of the burden of that 2.51% share and the skins are accountable for only 1.6% of the 2.51%, or 0.04% of the total upstream carbon footprint.

At the tanning stage, a third model kicks in and the leather manufacturer will be responsible for almost all of the environmental footprint of the processes used, with only a small share coming off to account for hair and wool.

This is incentive enough for the tanning industry to continue its efforts to make the environmental impact of leather manufacture as low as possible. But the share of the upstream carbon footprint that is attributable to the hide is much lower than the figures suggested by many of the finished product companies and campaign groups that have attempted to address this question up till now.

Essay 12 in the Nothing To Hide series, which is free to view and free to share, deals in depth with the background thinking that helped shape COTANCE’s position. COTANCE has paid tribute to the work of industry consultant Federico Brugnoli in sparking much of this work off with a presentation he made in Shanghai in 2012 and follow-up work he carried out in the years that followed with UNIC and COTANCE itself. Federico Brugnoli is the main author of the Nothing To Hide essay.

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