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LWG launches leather industry's largest lifecycle assessment study

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-11-15 13:11:32 – United Kingdom

The Leather Working Group (LWG) has announced the launch of the leather industry's largest lifecycle assessment (LCA) to look at the environmental impact of leather produced in LWG-certified facilities.

The LWG has begun the first part of its lifecycle assessment of leather, which will be based on material created in LWG-certified leather production facilities, in collaboration with Milan-based sustainability consultancy Spin360.

Bruno Kestenband, Leather Responsible Sourcing Manager at Richemont International, said that the LCA is an important tool for demonstrating the tanning industry's environmental progress and potential trade-offs. It eliminates subjectivity and enables them, as buyers of tanned leather, to address the true causes of leather's environmental implications.

LWG and Spin360 will define the study's goal and scope in the first phase of the project. This will include specifying the sort of leather that will be studied, as well as characteristics like geographical origin, animal type, tanning technology, and the industries that will be supplied (footwear, apparel, upholstery, etc.). To ensure that the work is representative and helpful to the LWG community, the newly formed LWG Environmental Impact Working Group will contribute their knowledge and skills to the aim and scope definition phase of the LCA.

LWG's LCA study will gather and analyze data from at least 40 leather manufacturers located in different parts of the world, making it the largest LCA ever undertaken for the leather sector. The study will try to encompass a wide representation of leather made in LWG-certified facilities by maximizing and diversifying the data obtained.

Fernando Bellese, Chief Sustainability Officer at PrimeAsia Leather Company, said that the LWG LCA is a fascinating project. Many discussions about the impact of leather have relied on out-of-date data and assumptions. It's encouraging to see a reputable body like LWG coordinating this sector-wide review and producing up-to-date, scientifically-based statistics on the business. The LCA will also be very useful in giving LWG new improvement insights and possibilities to continue achieving additional environmental efficiencies for the global leather sector.

The study will use data from the raw material, energy consumption, chemicals, water consumption, water, and air emissions, and waste management acquired and validated as part of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit during the data-gathering phase. Additional data will be collected directly from leather manufacturers as part of the study.

The Life Cycle Impact Assessment will be peer-reviewed and matched with the most important provisions of ISO 14040 on data quality, such as time-related coverage, geographic coverage, technology coverage, representativeness, and consistency. It will shed light on a variety of environmental impact categories, including the potential for global warming (climate change), abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), eutrophication, water resource depletion, and toxicity.

Using the data and insights generated by the LWG LCA, brands and retailers will be able to make science-based sourcing decisions and progress towards their supply chain sustainability goals. This will further empower brands to understand the full impact of their products and even communicate more clearly to consumers. 

The LWG will also use the LCA data to improve the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol, ensuring that LWG remains the world's top environmental certification for leather manufacturing.

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