24 October 2023
Calzado Ackerman, Mexico
In the build-up to the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), leather industry bodies from around the world have joined forces to issue a new leather industry manifesto.
The conference takes place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
An appropriate number of leather industry bodies, 28 in total, have signed the new manifesto, which calls for greater use of natural materials, in particular leather, in addressing the challenges of man-made climate change.
“We welcome new policy and regulations in France and the Netherlands, proposed legislation in the European Union and UK, and the growing recognition that action must be taken to reduce the impact of fashion and textiles,” the text said.
It said legal requirements for circularity in fashion and textiles were likely to become more widespread and that natural fibres, including leather, excel in enabling companies to meet these requirements.
Products made from leather, wool, silk and other natural fibres can remain in use for long periods of time and be easily passed on to new owners. Products made from these materials are eminently repairable and can be repurposed or readily composted at end of life.
The manifesto quoted recent work by Australian researcher Dr Stephen Wiedemann and others that found the climate change impacts of natural fibres to be negative if owners increase the number of wears or uses of a finished product by 50%. It explained that that means greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided entirely in products made from leather and other natural fibres.
This is primarily because ongoing use of the product made from natural materials means avoiding emissions associated with the manufacture of a new product made from petrochemical synthetic materials.
“Leather offers an opportunity to make the best use of the resources available and to do so without diminishing them or causing harm to the environment,” the text said. “There are currently huge volumes of readily available hides and skins going unused which could be transformed into sustainable leather, replacing fossil fuel-derived synthetic alternatives, with the additional emissions and impacts those entail.”
The signatories have calculated that hides and skins that currently fail to come into the leather value could put shoes on more than 2.5 billion pairs of feet.