31 May 2024

Environment Upcycling LCA - Time to Recognise the Benefits of Upcycled Natural Materials Like Leather

Reading about inconsistencies or inaccuracies in how materials are measured and reported and how these affect their potential inclusion or exclusion in the design and manufacturing of clothing, accessories, furniture, and automotive interiors is a regular occurrence. By One 4Leather.

Recently, we highlighted that the Leather & Hide Council of America (LHCA) had funded a new, independent study into the carbon footprint of making leather from US cowhides. The study was conducted using lifecycle assessment (LCA) methodology. It considered water use, eutrophication, greenhouse gas emissions, toxicity to humans, ozone depletion, and the impact of chemicals on land and water. The study found that the Higg Index MSI overestimates leather’s climate impact by as much as 8,000 times.

We have now encountered an article in Fashion Network that critically examines the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method. The article raises a fundamental question: is the PEF method a genuine tool for promoting sustainability or a mere distraction used by fast fashion companies to appear eco-friendly? The PEF method, endorsed by the European Commission, aims to standardise environmental impact measurement across product lifecycles, making it easier to compare and improve the sustainability of different products. However, it’s not without its critics. They argue that the PEF method has significant gaps, such as not fully addressing biodiversity loss, microfibre pollution, and human rights issues. There are also concerns about potential biases favouring synthetic fibres over natural ones. While the method is a step towards transparency, its limitations could have far-reaching implications for environmental and social impact.

There are also concerns about potential biases favouring synthetic fibres over natural ones.

At what point will we stop and realise that using natural materials, such as leather, which is upcycled from a waste product of the food industry, is better for the planet than investing money in creating alternative materials, primarily made using some form of plastic? If we stop trusting what these measurement platforms are trying to lead us to believe and actually sit and think about it, surely the answer is obvious.

About APLF

We bring leather, material and fashion businesses together: an opportunity to meet and greet face to face. We bring them from all parts of the world so that they can find fresh partners, discover new customers or suppliers and keep ahead of industry developments.


We organise a number of trade exhibitions which focus on fashion and lifestyle: sectors that are constantly in flux, so visitors and exhibitors alike need to be constantly aware both of the changes around them and those forecast for coming seasons.


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