Olivenleder ®: Innovators In Vegetable Tanning

Created by wet-green GmbH, the Olivenleder® leather brand stands out for its strong commitment to a comprehensive and especially innovative eco-responsible approach. Focused on reducing its environmental footprint, “the aim is not ‘less harmful,’ more ‘good for the environment.’” Olivenleder® offers a range of vegetable-tanned leathers that combine innovation, circularity, and social responsibility with a palette of bright, deep colors.

Origin Of Tanning: Circularity & Social Sustainability

Wet-green GmbH is a natural chemicals company based in Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In addition to its core business, the company operates its own tannery registered under the trademark Olivenleder® and develops leathers produced in compliance with strict sustainable standards while offering innovative vegetable tanning characteristics.

In line with its global eco-responsible approach, the company has developed the vegetable tanning solution, wet-green® OBE, a patented technology that is certified chrome-, glutaraldehyde- and aluminum-free. Its particularity lies in the origin of its raw material: the olive leaves from which this tannin is obtained are derived from waste from olive-growing activities in the Mediterranean region. After each harvest, olive oil producers based in Mediterranean countries often burn the olive leaves, a method that releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Wet-green GmbH collects the dried leaves, cuts them and brews them like tea to allow the water to evaporate, obtaining a syrupy tannin. Thanks to the reuse of these by-products of the food industry, the supply of raw material is not only safe, but also truly beneficial to the environment, allowing a reduction in CO2 emissions and an optimization of soil management. By not growing olive trees exclusively for the leather industry, the company does not encroach on agricultural land that could be used for growing foodstuff. “The olive leaves used for our tanning agent accrue anyway during pruning and harvesting, and therefore do not cause any additional impact,” states wet-green GmbH.

Beyond the ecological benefits, the production of wet-green® OBE has also generated new sources of income for farmers, with the company ensuring that they are fairly compensated. For Olivenleder, “this is one aspect of social sustainability.”

Safe and non-toxic, especially when in contact with the skin, the tanning extract is certified for its innocuousness and has been granted the Dermatest Seal “Excellent”.

A Range Of Soft Leathers With Deep Colors

Thanks to intense research and development, Olivenleder technology moves away from the heavy, restrictive standards of vegetable tanning and offers a greater variety of behaviors and aspects, with more flexibility and deep color ranges, breaking new ground for vegetable tanning.

Thanks in particular to the chlorophyll contained in the olive leaves, the hides, after drying, are naturally very light, bordering on white, which allows them to be dyed any color. Olivenleder® leathers also have a better capacity to absorb colors, a property that is usually difficult to obtain with vegetable tanning.

Displaying natural shades, using finishes with a reduced chemical impact, the skins’ natural grains are enhanced, preserving its original qualities. The chromatic shades live and patinate with time.

Olivenleder’s goal is to produce dye formulations of the highest quality that are free from harmful chemicals and that do not impact the biodegradability of the leather, retaining a high level of circularity.

The tanning agent not only guarantees maximum durability and an all-encompassing ecological approach, but also reduces the consumption of acids, salts, and dyes compared to traditional tanning methods.

The remarkable suppleness of these vegetable-tanned leathers allows for a wider range of uses and opens up vegetable tanning to new markets, especially in the clothing sector, where flexibility is essential.

Virtuous Leather Finishing

Lastly, the finishing process, the final stage in a global approach moving from tanning to the finished product, guarantees excellent degradability properties. Solvent-free, water-based, and free of volatile organic compounds, the finishes are made with vegetable waxes or oils, while the olive oil wax finish gives skins a delicate matte and rubbery surface. These finishes optimize the product’s end-of-life, allowing leather manufacturing waste such as production offcuts to be reintegrated into the value chain, with the residues transformed into fertilizer, for example. 

Olivenleder® benefits from a global circular approach. The leathers are also Cradle-to-Cradle Certified, with a Gold category Material Health rating.

When it comes to the unlimited possibilities of environmental responsibility, wet-green GmbH is a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries of research and development without compromise so that, ultimately, creativity, color, know-how and sustainability can coexist in a single product.

To go further, discover our decoding Sustainable Color In Leather

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