Leather cutting waste

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Leather cutting waste in leather processing

Leather cutting waste is what is left over after cutting away the desired shapes. This is either too small to be used for anything else or contains damaged parts. Since natural leather (unlike imitation leather or Alcantara) has grown irregularly and an animal skin does not have an ideal geometrical shape, the leather cutting waste of genuine leather is generally high, despite all attempts to optimally divide the existing material. In the case of small articles, the waste is about 20 per cent of the leather surface.

The larger and more perfect the animal skin surface, the lower the leather cutting waste.



In industrial processing of leather, large amounts of leather cutting waste are produced.


In the furniture and vehicle sector, the waste is generally between 30 and 45%. For furniture sets with large individual surfaces, the wastage can be as high as 80%. Since leather is sold in square metres, wastage is an important cost factor. Therefore, inexpensive leather objects have more seams and smaller surfaces and high-quality leather covers can consist of generous individual surfaces.

Leather cutting waste is not disposed of. It can be used as insulation for floors of riding stables or it is sold to China and other emerging countries. There, the leather cutting waste is processed into all kinds of leather accessories. To a limited extent, leather cutting waste is also sold by specialised retailers to end-users and small leather workshops.

Leather cutting waste in the slaughterhouse

The possible yield from an animal skin also depends highly on the skin removal process in the slaughterhouse. Professionally removing the skin from the dead animal ensures less waste when the skin is made into leather. Lobes, cuts, holes and strong indentations reduce the surface yield.

Cutting damages in the middle part of a skin make it impossible to use the skin for larger leather products such as sofas. Not only holes, but also notches and cuts make a skin useless for manufacturing leather. Either there are holes, or the area is too thin and unstable for good leather quality. Suitable knives and well trained staff ensure a good leather yield.



Damaged skins are also a risk in the leather tanning process. Irregular skin flaps quickly get caught in production machines and, at worst, can damage them. The skin is often ruptured when this happens.

The skin can also tear when peeling the skin with the aid of machines.

The recommended procedure is to prevent these problems from the start in the skin removal and cutting processes. A precise incision over the belly goes straight from the anus to the mouth and meets the level of the scrotum/udders.


Peeling off the skin in the slaughterhouse.



With posters, associations try to teach the butchers the best possible leather saving cutting performance.


Additional information