17 April 2023

Scotland-based leather manufacturer Bridge of Weir has said it welcomes a report that campaign group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published at the end of last year, writes Leatherbiz.


Image shows a traceable finished hide at Bridge of Weir.


According to Bridge of Weir, the WWF report recognises that, with global beef consumption rising, the leather industry plays “an absolutely crucial role in circularity”.

In comments in mid-April, the leather manufacturer’s head of sustainability and innovation, Dr Warren Bowden, said: “It is a significant development for a globally trusted organisation such as WWF to highlight the truth around leather and encourage customers of leather manufacturers to collaborate across the full supply chain and increase consumer awareness of leather’s sustainability.”

The report, which has the title ‘Leather Also Has a Role to Play in the Fight Against Deforestation’, is by WWF’s Markets Institute platform. It launched Markets Institute in 2016 as a dedicated platform that works to increase the speed and scale of market-based initiatives that will help “optimise global food sector sustainability.

In this context, it has covered topics such as deforestation extensively and, in this new report, lays out the role it believes leather has in the battle against deforestation.

It quotes important recent industry messages that make clear that hides are a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, that the leather industry has no influence on cattle supply and that if hides are not used for leather, they often go to landfill and create methane.

“Leather is steeped in circularity and is one of the oldest forms of upcycling,” the report says, but it goes on to make the point that companies that use leather have a responsibility to influence sustainable practices, including the elimination of deforestation. The leather industry’s “largely untapped potential for influence” could be significant, it said.

Addressing this point, Warren Bowden said: “Across the industry, there needs to be a call to action to share, educate and adopt progressive practices. We are delighted the WWF is encouraging a proactive role for industry leaders. We pride ourselves on employing leading environmental practices, and we endeavour to share our learning with the wider industry as recommended in the report.”

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