20 December 2022

As tanning leather moves towards being more sustainable and environmentally friendly, the reduction of water use is a key element in this process.

Using less water in tanning means using fewer chemicals and by extension the water is easier to clean and recycle so as to use it again or, in the case of efficient effluent treatment plants, returned to the environment and used for irrigating crops.

One of the international organisations working to reduce water usage in tanning, is the Sustainable Leather Foundation (SLF) that has thirty-two affiliated tanneries worldwide.

Measures being used by tanneries to reduce water consumption are many. These include:

  • Reducing the number of washing processes for each hide
  • Using fresh hides which do not need salt removal
  • Using more efficient machinery
  • Reusing and recycling water
  • Reducing chemical use or using biodegradable chemicals

As tanning processes are refined and tanneries seek recognized sustainability certifications,  water use has become more manageable.

This includes investing in effluent treatment plants and, in some cases, tanning techniques using polymer bead technology that reduces the amount of water and chemicals needed in the drum for retanning.

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