Making an Impact through Responsible Leather

5 things we learned from Nicole Lambert, Fiber and material specialist, Textile Exchange and Camille Rojot, Origem Sustainable Sourcing

The Textile Exchange has been working with stakeholders across the global leather industry  to define Responsible Leather and build a system so brands can directly support zero deforestation and animal welfare at farms. The Responsible Leather Program (first draft) will be published in Oct. 2020.

 


Six components to making leather responsible

Each developed by its own international working groups of everyone from cattle industry, forestry experts, NGOs to leather manufacturers and brands: the Responsible Leather Program’s six components:

-Deforestation/Conversion-free (DCF) Protocol: a strict pass/fail check of zero gross deforestation or conversion with each farm 3rd party verified.

-Animal Welfare benchmark: including nutrition, transport, slaughtering, benched against existing standards.  

-Leather Production benchmark: Leather Working Group Bronze Standard for beamhouse, tanning to finishing.

-Impact Incentives: for zero deforestation now: bypassing the complex supply chain, brands can financially incentivize zero deforestation farms, even if that’s not where their own leather is sourced.

-Claims Framework: rules for how brands and retailers communicate on RLP.

-Traceability guidelines: Every year brands map traceability one tier back, so over five years have traceability all the way back to slaughterhouse.

This program is “a benchmark, not a standard.”

To drive adoption of existing standards, “We are identifying the minimum level and anything above.” Each existing leather standard is benchmarked so any farm certified to that standard will also be recognized as Responsible Leather.

Brands can support zero deforestation farming now! Via impact incentives, independent from product

Rather than farmers being paid a premium, then every supply chain actor adding their margin on top, brands can skip the supply chain to directly support farmers committed to zero deforestation now with impact incentives – a small fee. With the meat industry also developing an incentive program, approved farms can be doubly incentivized.

Still to be defined…

-What price for impact incentives? these could potentially fluctuate.

-Which traceability tools? This will be decided in the coming months.

-Political involvement? It is the intention to involve governments.

Get involved: To join monthly online roundtables, visit responsibleleather.org

Find the other reports of the Première Vision conferences in our programme section.