The Environmental Impacts of Leather
Depending upon how it’s processed, leather has the potential to own a significant environmental impact. Or it will be a sensible sustainable option to reduce carbon footprint. Of course, we can’t ignore the moral considerations of using animal hide for our clothing and footwear. But neither can ignore the environmental harm related to conventional vegan leather (PVC). So this post will bear all the moral and environmental considerations related to wearing leather. And you’ll decide for yourself how best you would like to approach the problem.
Leather is created by tanning the hide (skin) of animals- usually cows, but many other animals leathers are worn including goat, kangaroo, crocodile, fish and lots of more.
Measuring and reducing the leather carbon footprint
There has been a protracted and sophisticated debate on a way to measure the environmental impact of leather production. Measure accurately and analyze the environmental impact of leather has been a big challenge. But the approval of the merchandise Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) by the EU’s Environmental Footprint commission could be a defining breakthrough.
It’s important to notice that up to 16 impact categories conjure the environmental footprint of a product. The impact on temperature change, or carbon footprint of leather, is simply one in each of them. This can be often overlooked publically perception. Improving thus a tannery’s environmental performance means also reducing water consumption and optimizing chemical use, implementing efficient waste and emission management, and a few other aspects. Major advancements are made all told these areas. Today, the PEFCR for leather finally offers a comprehensive method of measuring its impact.
Animal rearing, leather, and its product impact
The big question about the footprint of leather has always been about the inclusion or exclusion of animal rearing. Because it significantly affects the calculation. The key part of the environmental footprint of leather, if included, would be in animal rearing. This could hide the particular impact of leather-making, which is what makes the difference between one or the opposite tanner. This can be why, the system boundaries, acknowledged by the PCR – CEN Standard EN 16887, set the beginning of the lifecycle of leather at the slaughterhouse, where the hide or skin is truly obtained.
The explanation is that skins and hides are a non-determining by-product of the food industry. This suggests that no animal are going to be slaughtered for its hide or skin which the quantity of obtainable leather will always be determined by meat consumption (hence non-determining). This doesn’t change the very fact that the footprint of animal rearing is a crucial factor. Because it will still affect public perception and hence the provision of leather.
This is a crucial question, and also the PEFCR’s close-to-zero-allocation of impact on skins and hides provides already an inexpensive basis for assessing the environmental footprint of leather. Leather manufacturing may rely upon the food industry, but the opposite way around this is often not so. In other words, the prime reason for cattle rearing within the agricultural sector is food, not leather. This manner of ascribing process impact on the most product isn’t a novelty but supported consequential LCA methodologies. Which distinguishes between products and by-products on the one hand, and by-products and waste, on the opposite hand. If the method intends to comprehend product A, the impact can’t be ascribed to a by-product B, which is an unavoidable residue (or wastes).
Life cycle assessment: towards a strategy for impact assessment
The PEFCR opens the way for methodically assessing the impact of leather on the environment. With relation to heating, acidification, ozone depletion, resource depletion, eutrophication, etc. The PEF method relies on a so-called attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, where consequential aspects aren’t yet recognized. This slows down the attribution of 0-allocation for hides and skins. The present allocation rules are, however, not immutable and there are chances for correcting the EU tool to live the impact of leather and identify opportunities for improvement.
Steps Taken to reduce Carbon Footprint
Already, plenty of research has been conducted to search out key process steps which will be improved in leather production. The dehairing of animal hides, which is one among the primary steps a skin or hide undergoes, was traditionally done using chemicals that significantly impacted the eco-toxicity of freshwater and marine waters when disposed of. The beamhouse phase, as this step is named, could assign to 70% of all the water employed in the leather making process and will be a source of water eutrophication if not controlled.
After identification of this issue, alternatives are introduced, like enzymes for the cleaning of the hides. The hair-save method has been in use because the best available technology for a minimum of 20 years. Measurement of the impact of enzymes compared to chemicals through an LCA method shows conclusively that the enzymes have a minimal impact. Particularly, when the stuff is additionally composted. The PEFCR helps to spot key points of improvement within the process that may help reduce the footprint even further within the future.
Conclusion: If certain measures are taken appropriately while manufacture handmade goods it certainly reduces waste and carbon footprint. Its impact can is seen in a short time but can be easily measured in long run.
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