Color – in the leather industry as elsewhere – is essentially a chemical transformation. But color and dyeing processes are not only energy-intensive, they’re also notorious for relying on chemical agents that, without proper handling, can be released into the environment.
The leather industry is mobilizing to offer greener alternatives across its production chain. In terms of color processes, these efforts – like those in the textile industry – are mainly focusing on reducing both water consumption and chemical residues.
Plant, mineral and synthetic tanning agents provide a whole array of different characteristics. New formulas are constantly being perfected to retain the properties of these pigmentary agents, while reconciling them with environmental considerations.
Discover these new solutions in our selection of leathers found at Première Vision by logging on here.
Vegetable tanning uses tanning agents derived from plant extracts, and is characterized by an authentic look. Its color-absorbing capacity usually makes it more difficult to to obtain bright hues. In general, it also lends more firmness and density to skins. These are the two main points the latest innovations focus on.
Increasingly sustainable brights responsables
Innovations are also focusing on more intense and cleaner colors.
Brands’ requirements have reflected changing regulatory requirements for metals, leading them to anticipate future requirements by calling for products free of traces of chromium or metal. As a result, formulations have focused on tanning agents derived from synthetic polymers.
New generations of low impact Metal-Free products offer qualities similar to those of chrome tanning. Thanks to the luminosity of the wet white bases, leathers boast true colors that are neither grayish nor bluish, including tangy, peppy pastels and optical whites. Wet white is a stabilization or pre-tanning state. Recent improvements include better thermal performance, mechanical resistance to abrasion and light-fastness.
With its Respect Technology process, the CILP tannery employs a tanning process which is free of heavy metals and glutaraldehyde, and is also water and energy efficient.
Suede calfskin specialist Sciarada has launched its Dherma and Granello ranges. Free of chrome, titanium, iron, aluminium and zirconium, these ranges make it possible to obtain a round hand and luminous shades.
Metal-free tanning is well adapted to suede leathers as it makes it possible to achieve a bright shade in drum dyeing, to bring out the colors.
With its metal-free synthetic tanning, Conceria M2 can obtain velvet leathers in intense colorways.
And don’t forget to see our special know-how report on eco-friendly color in textiles and our eco-friendly leather decodings.