20 May 2024

COTANCE project produces carbon footprint average for EU bovine leather

Europe’s Green Deal Leather project has produced an average figure of 8 kilos of CO2-equivalent as the carbon footprint of 1 square-metre of finished bovine leather in the European Union. By Leatherbiz.

As part of the project, leather manufacturers in seven European Union states (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary and Austria) collected carbon footprint data from their own operations and used the latest version of the ECO2L tool, developed over the last ten years by German national industry association VDL, to translate the data into carbon footprint measurements.

At the concluding Green Deal Leather event in Brussels on May 16, European industry body COTANCE explained that some participating tanneries registered lower figures than the average, and some higher.
The lowest the project recorded was around 4 kilos, while the highest was closer to 12 kilos.

At the Brussels event, COTANCE secretary general, Gustavo González-Quijano, pointed out that the discrepancies in these figures stem from the huge diversity in leather production in Europe. Different hide thicknesses and different treatments to produce different results inevitably led to a range of figures.

He said the average of 8 kilos puts European bovine leather at a similar level for carbon footprint as many plastic-based synthetic materials. “It is a good comparison,” he said. “The Green Deal Leather project deliberately took no account of the upstream carbon footprint of livestock, just as analyses of synthetic materials take no account of the impact of the petrochemicals used to make the plastics they use.”

Mr González-Quijano (pictured) said that, even though leather and synthetic materials have more or less that same carbon footprint when they leave the respective factories, the comparison changes radically when you include durability and product longevity. “Then, leather triumphs,” he said.

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