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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 www.leatherpanel.org 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.

In a number of these countries, particularly the least developed countries amongst them, raw hides and skins are among a very few national resources they possess. However, tanning and leather products industries have not received the very high priority they deserve in the national economy. Almost all the national governments concerned have exerted great efforts and spent much capital to build up leather industries; in some cases successfully, but unfortunately often with very unsatisfactory results. Paper prepared for the 3rd UNIDO Leather Panel in 1979 highlights some of the problems.

Typically only a small part of fleshings is used for manufacture of glue and animal protein while the major part is dumped as waste at landfill or disposed of along with other solid wastes. The unutilised fleshings, containing high concentration of lime and sulfide, putrefy and produce obnoxious odour. They also cause groundwater pollution, attract flies, rodents and stray dogs and thus represent a public nuisance. Due to high moisture content handling and transportation of fleshings is quite difficult. On the other hand, one tonne of wet fleshing with 85% moisture is estimated to generate 20-30 m3 of biogas. To solve the disposal problem of fleshings, one of the options considered and tested during UNIDO Regional Programme in South-East Asia was biomethanation. The results of testing at the pilot plant, the first of its kind in the region, are given in this report.

With increasing pressure from the pollution control authorities, tanners in many countries of South East Asia region are faced with the urgent task of utilization or safe disposal of solid wastes from tanneries, particularly fleshings. Likewise, sludge generated by tannery effluent treatment plants has to be either put to use or safely disposed. These two issues were highlighted by the industry and government representatives of countries participating in the Regional programme for South-East Asia.

The report contains details of the large scale pilot project implemented under Programme, characteristics of fleshings and sludge charged to the digestors, volume of gas generated vis-à-vis projection, coping with the hydrogen sulphide gas (H2S) and the many valuable lessons learnt. Details of the problems encountered – both process-related and mechanical – have been narrated. At the time of the report preparation (2002) it was the only operational plant of its kind in the world

Industrial sectors, especially the leather-based industry subsector in many developing countries and in former centrally planned economy countries (countries in transition), often suffer from unrecognized common interests among competing entrepreneurs. In these countries joining hands, lobbying together against governments tending to take too quick (legislative) action without foreseeing problems which might later arise in the industry, combining efforts in export promotion and retaining raw material (hides and skins) resources are of prime importance. Formulating and/or strengthening respective trade association is one of the most efficient (and fairly inexpensive) ways of tackling these problems. Recognizing the importance of professional associations and the lack of available information on this subject, UNIDO decided to conduct a survey revealing the main functions, modus operandi, managing and financing of trade associations in the leather, footwear and other products industries worldwide. The major objective of the study is not to present a model to be followed, but rather to show good practices which lead to more-or-less stable legal and economic conditions for leather-related manufacturing businesses. This paper presents problems of existing trade associations, lessons learned, possible ways of operation and relations with local and international authorities. Each chapter is followed with a list of best practices which can orient those involved in creating or operating national, regional or even international associations in the leather-based industries. The executive summary consists of a brief introduction which is followed by a full list of the best practices that have been identified. There are some recommendations offered for new and existing associations which may be considered when management decisions are made regarding future activities.

This paper prepared in 2007 for the 16th session of UNIDO Leather Panel analyzes the prevailing situation of the African leather and leather products sector in the context of the global leather-based industry. It attempts to identify and highlight the key issues regarding raw material/hides and skins production, quality and trade. Important aspects of processing of hides and skins to semi-processed and finished leathers including marketing are considered. 

Conventional technologies for treatment of tannery effluent are generally energy & chemical intensive and continuous process monitoring and control are required to achieve optimum results. In search for alternatives, robust, easy to operate and low maintenance technologies, constructed wetland system, also known as root zone treatment system, using reeds for treatment of effluent, has been considered a possible option. This system is widely used in Europe and elsewhere to treat municipal sewerage. However, there was no practical experience, at least at semi-industrial scale, about its applicability in purification of tannery effluents. Accordingly, in cooperation with willing tanneries and management of common effluent treatment plants (CETP)  in Tamilnadu, India, UNIDO, under its Regional Programme, established four pilot and demonstration reed beds, each with different features, to deal with effluent of different characteristics. Practical experience and results are reported in this paper.

The objective of this survey is to provide a review of domestic and export trading patterns inside footwear business and to give recommendations to developing countries for using appropriate trading strategies and channels. The focus is on footwear marketing and sale. The structure of this paper follows the development we have seen inside sale and marketing of footwear. The paper refers from the beginning less than 150 years ago with local supply of footwear up to day where footwear has become an important business on the global market place. The development has been different from one continent to the other, but it is important to realize that the consumer has become a powerful player. To know and to acknowledge the customers wishes is and still will be a key factor. The development has created challenges. A lot of new markets have come and the competition is growing every day. The paper describes the most important challenges. Challenges, the footwear business has to be aware of. The paper tries to give an answer to the questions the challenges bring.

The objective of this survey is to provide an independent and reliable review of the Chinese footwear industry and trade.

This study 
• assesses the scale of the industry and how it achieved its present size and status; 
• describes the industry as it is today in all its various facets such as ownership, labour availability etc.; 
• considers how much further the Chinese footwear industry is likely to grow and whether there is some equilibrium point it will reach and if so what that is likely to be and when this 
will happen. 

The survey was presented during the 15th UNIDO Leather Panel held in Leon/Mexico 2005.

Towards the end of the 20th century the tanning industry has made a considerable progress in controlling the environmental pollution caused by its activities, yet the situation varies from country to country and even from region to region within some large countries. Some tanners in industrialized countries hold the view that lax environmental regulations and poor enforcement account for lower production costs, higher competitiveness and hence further expansion of the tanning industry in developing countries.

This study compares the costs of treatment of tannery effluents, including indicative investments costs in selected industrialized and developing countries. While the figures concerning the investment and operational costs by now are quite obsolete and technologies change, the comparisons of the cost structures are still quite elightening.

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