The GLCC, those at the meeting concluded, is focused on those areas where the different parts of the leather manufacturing sector can best work together to defend leather as a material and find opportunities to promote its value. They said the GLCC must be “intent on highlighting the strengths of our industry” and on promoting a sustainable product through education, scientific accuracy and dispelling the myths that sometimes appear in the mainstream media. Topics such as transparency, traceability, environmental standards, chemical management, corporate social responsibility and animal welfare all need to be included in discussions about the leather industry.
Those present expressed support for a statement on veterinary practice proposed by ICHSLTA. The statement says: “The GLCC believes the export and import requirements promulgated by national governments for animal products and by-products, including hides, skins and leather, should be produced in accordance with the recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and supported by sound science. According to the OIE, hides and skins that have undergone a tanning process, including wet blue, wet white, crust and finished leather, do not require health certificates for export or import.”
The differences between leather as a three-dimensional structure compared to two-dimensional textiles was also discussed as this leads to much confusion in the leather supply chain when inappropriate requirements are set, particularly when looking at chemical management.
In the light of the ever-increasing development of alternatives to leather – including synthetic, hybrid and lab-grown materials – it was agreed that the industry as a whole should continue to press for accurate and ethical labelling and marketing of materials that look like leather. A separate statement has been prepared on this topic which will be posted on GLCC partner organisations’ websites.
Following recent media coverage of chromium-tanned leather, all sectors agreed that while some customers were requesting chromium-free leathers, there was no overall diminution in demand for chromium-tanned leather. Tanning with chromium sulphate provides the performance characteristics necessary for many applications of leather and, if the tanning process is carried out correctly, there are no health or environmental problems associated with chromium-tanned leather.
A working group comprising individuals from all three GLCC partner organisations will build on the relationships that already exist with industry initiatives and external groups to see how best the GLCC can support them and push back against those that wish to harm the industry.
The next GLCC meeting will be organized by the ICHSLTA in March 2018 to coincide with APLF.
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