The new Ecotan range: metal and glutaraldehyde-free leathers
Recently a sector of consumers has begun to question the sustainability of fashion in general and of leather goods in particular. Always alert to market trends and ready to innovate, the leather industry is finding answers to ensure that its products will remain the premium material for fashion and accessories in the years to come.
For Silvateam, leading producer of tannin and other vegetable extracts with a history dating back to 1854, the answer to sustainable leather lies in the most obvious place, nature. With its new Ecotan range of metal and glutaraldehyde-free leathers, the company proposes a complete solution for circular leather articles which can be transformed into fertilisers for organic agriculture at the end of their useful life.
“We focused on nature since our origins, we see it as part of our DNA” states Leather BU Director Antonio Battaglia. “Following a series of very serious attacks against leather, we wanted to resolve the issue from the source by creating a bio-circular formulation which allows leather to become a resource at the end of its useful life.”
From nature to nature
Extracted simply and without the use of chemicals, the natural tannins that form the basis of the Ecotan leather can be used in traditional tanneries to replace mineral based tanning products. These formulations are designed to enable leather to join the ‘cradle-to-cradle’ (C2C) design, a biomimetic process in which products and systems are modelled on nature’s processes while materials become nutrients circulating within the metabolism of our world. With Ecotan, finished leather articles and leather scraps can be broken down into basic soil nutrients through a process called hydrolysis, enabling leather to return to nature and closing the cycle.
To make this happen, Silvateam has established a series of partnerships throughout the entire supply chain, from tanneries to specialised finishing and recycling companies. For example, Silvateam’s partnerships with fertiliser producer Fertilizzanti Certaldo and finishing company Biofin, part of Gruppo Biokimica, have been crucial to confirming the recyclability of Ecotan leather articles even after finishing and dyeing.
We may still have to wait for fashion brands to build the necessary product chain before we see a mass recycling of leather articles, but Ecotan might just be the tool they were waiting for to make this a reality.
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