Ecological aspects of important tanning processes is the title of a brochure, the aim of which is to provide leather processors, consumers, authorities, associations, journalists and other interested parties with factual information on the ecological aspects of leather and its production using modern processes. This seems all the more necessary as there are numerous misunderstandings, as well as much misinformation and ignorance in this field.
The brochure was revised in 2021. Prof. Dr Günter Reich is still named as the author, while Dr Michael Meyer, FILK Freiberg Institute gGmbH, was responsible for the revision.
The publisher is Forschungsgemeinschaft Leder e.V.
Following a brief description of the economic importance of leather production and its basic technological features, the three important tanning processes (chrome tanning, chrome-free wet white tanning with glutardialdehyde and organic tanning agents, and vegetable tanning with mimosa), the process flow, the resultant wastewater, solid waste and the leather that is obtained are documented quantitatively and qualitatively with regard to their ecological aspects. This is based on the results of a comprehensive project conducted by the Research Institute for Leather and Plastic Sheeting (FILK) and the former Leather Institute Tanning School (LGR), under consideration of the international literature. The evaluation of the data leads to the clear conclusion that there are no factually justified objections to the use of properly produced chrome leather and its manufacture, or to the recycling or disposal of the resultant by-products and waste.
There is no general superiority of chrome-free leathers or their tanning processes. All three leathers can be produced in an ecologically safe fashion using the Best Available Technology.