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UNIDO has prepared and published over one hundred publications, papers, manuals and guidelines, primarily aimed at technical experts and policy makers in developing countries, though many are used by sector-related institutions and development organizations elsewhere.

The website is intended to provide an easy access to information sources on the leather, footwear and leather products industry, as well as to UNIDO publications related to the leather sector in one place, including earlier publications that were previously only available in hard copy.

Hydrogen supplied gas present in tanneries and effluent treatment plants (ETPs) has proven fatal to workers exposed to it many times.

It is therefore necessary that the owners and managers of tanneries and effluent treatment plants are fully aware of the dangers posed by this poisonous gas and take all preventive and precautionary measures to protect the workforce from exposure to this gas. In the event of accidental exposure of a worker, they should know how to deal with the situation.

UNIDO’s activities in the leather processing has as one of its important objectives, improvement of occupational safety and health practices in tanneries and effluent treatment plants. Under this objective, the project has been seeking to demonstrate in selected tanneries improvement practices for better occupational health and safety of the workers.

It is hoped that the industry representatives and other concerned with the occupational health and safety of workers in tanneries and effluent treatment plants will find this publication useful.

The Global Leather Coordinating Committee (GLCC) in 2013 sought to identify real and perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of importance to the leather industry. This paper sets down a mosaic of major issues stemming from these considerations.This paper was published in the World Leather (February/March 2014).

Dissolving the hair substance in the course of liming and unhairing entails a high load of organic pollution in wastewater; as the environmental demands have grown acute, it has become necessary to further reduce wastewater pollution load as much as possible. Hair-save technology, using only chemicals traditionally applied in liming, is among simple and good options towards achieving that aim. Hair-save unhairing is far from being a general practice as yet, but in future the increase of environmental costs and external pressures might make it more attractive. In addition to process description, equipment requirements, the scope for utilization of hairs obtained as well as cost considerations are also provided.

For an easy reference older papers are also available.

The objective of the study e-Learning in the leather based industries is to analyze the the use of modern (non-traditional, beyond the textbook and classroom based) training methods and related tools. Special attention is paid to the new UNIDO effort in building a library of electronic training materials for the leather, footwear and other leather products industries. As the first attempt the footwear pattern engineering training kit transferred into e-Learning tools are presented in order to demonstrate capabilities and the potential of this technology. Paper presented during the 18th UNIDO Leather Panel in Shanghai/China September/2012

The study titled Life Cycle Assessment, Carbon Footprint in Leather Processing prepared for and presented by F. Brugnoli during the XVIII Session of UNIDO Leather and Leather Products Industry Panel in Shanghai in 2012 provided detailed explanations, definitions and terminology pertaining to leather’s carbon footprint.

It also contained specific suggestions on how to proceed in addressing this issue. Subsequently, it was not only extensively discussed by eminent international leather specialists, but it has triggered a series of activities involving different regional and global establishments.

The essence of that paper, reactions to it and some other views were reflected in a special chapter in UNIDO’s comprehensive study The Framework for Sustainable Leather  Manufacture, a chapter dealing with carbon footprint aspects of leather processing.

That chapter is now here presented as separate paper for the benefit of readers primarily interested in the carbon footprint considerations. 

In addition to earlier content, the paper also presents the main features of the European Standard EN 16887 (approved in Nov 2016, published in March 2017, applicable not later than Sept 2017) Leather – Environmental footprint – Product Category Rules (PCR) – Carbon footprints. It is quite likely that the European norm will prevail globally.

Th report provides an overview of publications, standards and references for the calculation of the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) of the product Finished Leather together with recommendations for harmonization and the main elements needed to define system boundaries. The inherent complexity and inadequate exactness of carbon footprint analyses contrasts with the need to communicate the results in a simple, clear and unambiguous way. The report was prepared for and presented by Mr. F. Brugnoli  in the 18th  UNIDO Leather Panel in Shanghai/China September/2012

International concern has increased over the years on Climate Change. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998. Out of the last 21 years 18 are among the 20 warmest years since 1880. Data and findings add weight to the common conclusion that the clear long-term trend is one of global warming. Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid - 20th century is very likely due to the observed rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Among these, particular attention is paid on CO2 (carbon dioxide). Latest estimates show that global CO2 emissions increased to 30,600 million tonnes in 2010. Industry and manufacturing contribute for 19% of all Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Interest has been developed in estimating the total amount of GHG produced during the various stages in the life cycle of products. The outcome of these calculations, are referred to as Product Carbon Footprints (PCFs). Currently, there is no single methodology and no agreement has been reached internationally on Leather PCF calculation methods.

The paper presents the results of the implementation of solar collectors in three Bangladeshi tanneries as well as of energy audit in four Bangladeshi tanneries to evaluate and improve their electrical performance.

It is well known that tanneries use high amounts of hot water and electricity, and today energy costs are raising very fast all over the world, with energy costs increasing their share in the costs of leather production. Other problem especially in developing countries are frequent power cuts and problems with energy supply. Tannery relocation planned in Bangladesh from Hazaribagh to new Tannery Estate Dhaka is an opportunity to implement measures to reduce energy consumption which should lead to reduced costs for production but also reduced GHG production. Therefore, within the Re-Tie-Bangladesh project (Reduction of Environmental Threats and Increase of Exportability of Bangladeshi Leather Products1) UNIDO has implemented two actions to reduce energy costs in Bangladeshi tanneries: use of solar energy - solar water heating and electrical performance improvement.

In view of ever increasing legal and social pressures, no tanner can afford to be unfamiliar with the main issues and principles of environmental protection pertaining to tannery operations. Among these, preventing pollution and promoting cleaner leather processing, which ultimately leads to lower treatment costs, clearly remain a priority. Through the application of industrially proven low-waste advanced methods - such as using salt-free preserved raw hides and skins, hair-save liming, low-ammonia or ammonia-free deliming and bating, advanced chrome management system, etcetera - it is possible to decrease the pollution load expressed as COD and BOD5 by more than 30%, sulphides by about 60 to 70 %, ammonia nitrogen by 80%, total (Kjeldahl) nitrogen by 50%, chlorides by 70%, sulphates by 65 % and chromium by 90%. Yet, despite all preventive measures, there is still a considerable amount of pollution load to be dealt with by the end-of-pipe methods. The purpose of this booklet is to help a tanner or a tannery manager (possibly a well-trained leather technologist) to get familiarized with basic principles and methods of treatment of tannery effluents. This knowledge should make him better equipped for communications with the factory’s environmental unit, environmental authorities and NGOs. To keep the manual short and concise, there are many simplifications and omissions of details; for in-depth understanding of the complexities of treatment of effluents and solid wastes (sludge) we recommend you to consult extensive literature on this subject. Finally, and contrary to the widespread misperception that vegetable tanning is environmentally harmless (in reality its effluents have very high, difficult-to-treat COD), the manual basically refers to the combined chrome tanning (i.e. chrome tanning supplemented by vegetable and synthetic tanning agents) because it is by far the most prevailing leather tanning method.

Based on available and reliable data the foot measurement survey made in India in 1999 led to a very important conclusion: the proportion (i.e. shape) of feet of the local population differs considerably from what is built in European and North-American shoe lasts. The main reason is the ethnic (anthropologic) difference between European and American people, but the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Indian population wears open type of footwear (sandals, chappels, slippers etc.) or nothing must have its impact as well. Although substantial differences have been identified between geographic regions of the country it is quite apparent that

Indian feet are flatter, i.e. their forepart - especially around the ball and waist part - are wider and lower than in

case of European feet. Indian feet have shorter forepart: the distance of ball points from the heel part is relatively larger than that of European feet. The consequences are that footwear made on European shoe lasts do not really fit on Indian feet (i.e. they are not comfortable) and wear off quickly. Further distinction should be between different regions of the country. All this means that specially designed shoe lasts should be used for footwear produced for domestic sale in India.

In Chennai and Tamil Nadu/India, which was the basis for demonstration of UNIDO regional projects, circumstances at the time of project (mid 90's) commencement were such that the tanning Industry was under considerable pressure vis-à-vis effluent treatment. As a result several tanneries or clusters had already undertaken investments in primary or secondary effluent treatment. Rather than create a possible redundant model plant, the project strategy was oriented towards demonstration of four full scale model effluent treatment plants representing different aspects of tannery effluent treatment plant in terms of influent, treatment process and size. Thus, the Ranitec CETP with treatment capacity of 4,000 m3/d receiving effluent from 76 tanneries processing from raw to finished and using amongst others an anaerobic treatment system (lagoon) was upgraded to serve as a model for similar treatment plants in the region. The Vishtec CETP with a capacity of 3,400 m3/d of effluent using two stage aerobic treatment system was upgraded (mainly process control) to be a second model site. The President Kid Leather Company ETP, 120 m3/d receiving effluent from semi-finished to finished tanning processes from an isolated was upgraded as a model site (automatic dosing, laboratory). The MHT Company ETP, capacity 100 m3/d, receiving effluent from a traditional isolated vegetable tannery, a low cost anaerobic treatment system, was upgraded and serves as a model for similar units.

Detailed reports describing assisted tannery effluent treatment plants:

i) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, Amburtec, Ambur, India

ii) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, Kolkota, Leather Complex Kolkota, India

iii) Effluent Treatment Plant,  Meera Hussain Tannery, Melvsiharam, India

iv) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, Pallavaram, Chennai, India

v) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, Ranitec, Ranipet, India

vi) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, SIDCO, Ranipet, India

vii) Common Effluent Treatment Plant, VISHTEC, Melvisharam, India