Like every industry which uses chemicals, the leather industry must also observe environmental considerations and comply with strict limits on emissions.
For example, some substances which are used during leather production can no longer be present in the finished leather. Examples are:
- PCP (pentachlorophenol). This preservative is mainly used in the tropics.
- Certain azo dyes containing amines.
- Formaldehyde, which is used in synthetic tanning.
- Chromium-VI, formed during chrome tanning under unfavourable circumstances from the harmless chromium-III.
These limitations are due to the possible absorption of toxins by the human body in daily contact with leather objects.
Disposal of leather
The disposal of old leather is also problematic, because highly pigmented and chrome-tanned leather cannot easily be destroyed in an environmentally-friendly manner. In contrast to tanned leathers, they release dioxin during combustion, which must be filtered out.
With regards to global warming, the emission of carbon dioxide accumulated over all the required production steps is controlled. New energy-saving processes for leather drying, with little more than 40 degrees Celsius and lower water consumption are intended to increase the environmental compatibility of the overall process. Manufacturers, who attach great importance to these considerations and have also implemented them in practice, often refer to their products as bio leather, although it should be noted that this is not clearly defined, but rather a commercial slogan and should be verified by consumers in order to distinguish truly environmentally-friendly leathers from other leathers.