The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

STUDY: The Environmental Impact of Leather


The electricity required to make leather was found to be the primary driver of most categories of damage. Wastewater from re-tanning was found to be a major contributor to marine eutrophication.

OWEN ROGERS: ‘Leather is often framed as a byproduct of meat and dairy, but considering the scale of the industry and ubiquity of leather in clothing worldwide, it’s easy to see why it should be considered as an industry in and of itself. We know that raising cows for food can be incredibly damaging to the environment, and when we look more closely at leather production, we can see that those environmental impacts don’t end with cows’ deaths.

This study was primarily focused on the impact of three post-tanning processes: retanning, fatliquoring, and dyeing… To examine the environmental effects of each step, a life-cycle assessment (LCA) was performed. LCAs typically involve looking the effects and requirements of a material from the point of extraction through processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal… For animal advocates, the study provides good details about leather production that can be directly used in anti-leather advocacy, or included in vegan advocacy more broadly…

Several categories of environmental damage were considered: climate change, ozone depletion, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine eutrophication, human, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine toxicity, photochemical oxidant formation, particulate matter, ionizing radiation, and water, metal, and fossil depletion. Each LCA was done for the amount of each material necessary to produce 1kg of dyed crust leather, and energy and water were assessed as coming from standard Italian sources.

The production of electricity required for these processes was found to be the primary driver of most categories of damage. Greenhouse gas emissions mostly came from power production, as did most of the chemicals involved in ozone depletion and human, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine toxicity. However, some direct effects of these processes can be seen. Wastewater from retanning was found to be a major contributor to marine eutrophication, and the production of basic chromium sulfate was responsible for most metal depletion’.  SOURCE…


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