Responsible Leather Round Table

Advancing responsibility and continuous improvement in the global leather value chain.

Author: Stefanie

Repost: How does Deforestation in Brazil Present an Environmental Risk to the Leather Industry?

From: LeatherSustainability.com | Link to article

How does Deforestation in Brazil Present an Environmental Risk to the Leather Industry?

Deforestation remains one of the key global environmental challenges. In particular, the issue of Amazonian deforestation has been identified as the most significant contributor to global deforestation, and the issue has been the subject of ongoing political debate at the international scale. The question primarily surrounds the legitimacy with which nations housing parts of the Amazon rainforest can harness the world’s largest forested environment for economic gain.

Deforestation of the Amazon has accelerated since 2017, and 2018 saw deforestation occur at a rate that exceeded anything observed in the previous ten years. The rise appears to have continued into 2019, and the amount of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil was 88% higher in June 2019 than in June 2018.

What is causing increased deforestation in Brazil?

The recent intensification of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil is a political one and there is little debate of the economic opportunities offered by exploiting the Amazon, however, the international community is vocal in opposing the removal of a biome that houses an estimated 30% of global species. Supporters of Bolsonaro argue that making use of the Amazon could be transformative to the Brazilian economy due to the provision of raw materials (e.g. timber), land for agriculture (e.g. for the growth of crops such as soy), energy (e.g. hydroelectric), and cattle ranching.

Brazil houses a cattle population in excess of 200 million, of which an estimated 70 million is located in the Amazon biome. Cattle are raised on pastures that occupy around 70% of the cleared areas in the Brazilian Amazon and the industry is a significant cause of forest clearance. The cattle population in Brazil has shown continued growth in recent years, acting as a key source of raw material for the global beef, and as global demand for beef continues to rise, the growth in Brazil’s cattle herd shows little sign of slowing down.

What does this mean for the leather industry?

Due to its significant cattle herd, Brazil is a key source of global raw hide, and a significant number of leather articles originate from animals raised in Brazil. The recent rise in Amazonian deforestation means that it is likely that more cattle will be raised on deforested land in the future. Hides used in the leather industry can originate from animals reared in deforested regions of the Amazon biome. If rates of deforestation continue to rise, it is likely that organisations involved in the leather industry may begin to face a growing pressure to assure customers, investors, and non-government organisations that their products are not linked to deforestation.

Providing this assurance requires brands and retailers to have good levels of leather traceability, and visibility of suppliers upstream of the tannery, and of at least the slaughterhouse, in Brazil. Such standards of leather traceability are not easily achieved due to the complex and international nature of leather supply chains. Nonetheless, a realisation that raw material may be sourced from areas of deforestation requires action to ensure the protection of brand reputation, and the avoidance of negative media coverage.

Reduce Risks with Supply Chain Mapping

Supply chain mapping is the process of enhancing supply chain visibility and learning more about product origins. Eurofins | BLC offer a suite of supply chain mapping services that allow can allow you to investigate your supply chain for sustainability and commercial benefit. Findings can allow you to investigate specific issues (such as deforestation), identify the extent of any potential sourcing from deforested regions, and formulate and deliver an effective response to external stakeholders.

Season’s Greetings from the RLRT

Hi Everyone,

Season’s Greeting!

It has been quite a while since we have been in touch, and I thank you for your patience. Since our very successful event in Ireland, we have been incredibly busy with our Textile Exchange annual conference in Milan, travel to the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver, and a lot of work on planning for 2019. I’m sure you have been equally busy in your roles, and hope you get the holiday break that you deserve, and that you start the new year feeling energized and inspired!

Over the last month, we have been taking this time to reflect on what has worked and not worked with Responsible Leather, and thinking about how to really drive the work forward in the new year. One thing that we will be doing is to re-organize the work streams and conference calls to be more focused and effective for everyone. To that end, we will be creating technical task groups that will focus on advancing the development of the different components of the Responsible Leather Assessment tool (RLA), then holding regular Responsible Leather Round Table update calls to keep everyone informed of the progress and give opportunity for input. The work streams will focus on:

  • animal welfare
  • deforestation
  • tanneries
  • traceability
  • communications
  • strategy, design and budget

There will also be stakeholder calls on specific topics throughout the year.

Another change in our strategy is with regards to our funding. We are very grateful for the support of the industry over the past two years and hope that everyone who sponsored our work is pleased with the progress. Now, as we try to develop a strong work plan that we can commit to, we will want to have an upfront understanding of our budget so that we can engage the people that we need, dedicate the resources within Textile Exchange, and plan for travel and meetings. For this reason, we are setting a target amount, and asking companies to commit their sponsorship by the 1st of February. Once we know the amount we need has been reached, we can then push the button and really start moving forward! We have developed a funding brochure that we hope will help you make this commitment.

There is a lot more to talk about in this newsletter, so I will let you read on, but let me finish by thanking our small team of Stefanie and Coty for their relentless hard work, our wonderful friends at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) for so graciously inviting us to coordinate with their event in Ireland, and to all of you for the financial support and many hours of engagement, ideas, and encouragement that you have contributed.  I am very proud to be doing this work and to know all of you!

Warm regards and happy holidays,

Anne

Thank you for joining us in Ireland!

Thank you to those of you who joined us in Kilkenny, Ireland! For those of you who were unable to attend, you can learn more about it below.

The Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT) held its first in-person event and meeting in Ireland this October 11-12, alongside the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB)’s Global Conference on Sustainable Beef (October 9-12).

Around 60 delegates from across the leather value chain, from farm to fashion, attended the “Global Forum on Responsible Leather” and added to the discussion around the development of a Responsible Leather Assessment tool (RLA) for the industry. Noting the unique opportunity to engage with members from the beef industry, the overall response from event attendees was positive and echoed the need for more time to focus on the individual issues, as well as the need for funding the extensive amount of work that needs to be done.

Although there are many challenges in the leather value chain, particularly around traceability, RLRT stakeholders are enthusiastic about using the round table as a forum for discussion and debate, particularly when looking at opportunities for alternative traceability models to address issues at the farm level. The RLRT team will spend the remainder of 2018 structuring the work to come in the new year around the wealth of feedback, suggestions and outcomes from the Global Forum on Responsible Leather.

View the presentations, recordings and notes from the event here.

Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN

Source: The Guardian
Written by: Jonathan Watts

The world has two years to secure a deal for nature to halt a ‘silent killer’ as dangerous as climate change, says biodiversity chief

The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.

Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pașca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.

“The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer,” she told the Guardian. “It’s different from climate change, where people feel the impact in everyday life. With biodiversity, it is not so clear but by the time you feel what is happening, it may be too late.”

Pașca Palmer is executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – the world body responsible for maintaining the natural life support systems on which humanity depends.

Its members – 195 states and the EU – will meet in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, this month to start discussions on a new framework for managing the world’s ecosystems and wildlife. This will kick off two years of frenetic negotiations, which Pașca Palmer hopes will culminate in an ambitious new global deal at the next conference in Beijing in 2020.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Why now is the perfect time to source sustainable leather

Source: International Leather Maker
Published:  22 November, 2018
By: Martin Ricker

On November 15, I gave a short presentation at the Leather & Sustainability in Retail conference in central London to highlight why I believe that now is a good time to source sustainable, well-made leather. Over 90 delegates were present with the majority representing brands and retailers. ILM co-organised the half-day event with BLC | Eurofins and here is a summary.

Most people in the tanning industry now believe that the current market situation is different from the usual cyclical economic model and that there is a more fundamental change taking place.

Leather is under pressure from other materials, negative media coverage and a growing perception that anything to do with the culling of animals is bad, especially among the generation of people born after 1990.

Each year ILM collects data through its ILM Tanner Business Confidence Survey to gauge the international business climate and assess the challenges that tanners are facing. Our latest survey was conducted in July and the full results were published in ILM September-October 2018 print/digital app edition.

From the survey, 75% of respondent tanners said that they are unquestionably concerned about their customers substituting genuine leather with other materials. They also confirmed that they perceive more negative publicity around the leather industry from both anti-leather/meat NGOs/campaign groups and from the mainstream and social media.

 

Historic low raw material prices

Each day ILM’s sister online publication, theSauerReport, publishes market analysis and raw materials prices from a range of sources around the world for its subscribers. We have seen that raw materials prices in 2018 are at or heading for historic low levels. To put into context, it is estimated that raw materials (hides/skins) constitute around 30-40% of a tanners’ business costs.

Mid 2008 marked the point of the Lehman Brothers collapse which came to symbolise the subsequent global financial crisis and crash of world financial markets. Data from that time shows that hide and skin prices were not immune, and the market also collapsed. However, growing demand from China at that time managed to bring about a relatively quick recovery.

Hide and skin prices not only recovered but rose to record high levels peaking in late 2014/early 2015. Since then prices have declined steadily to low points we have reached today. Many leather industry insiders believe that this was the point that many brands and retailers switched away from leather and started to substitute or replace with other materials.

Today, sheepskin prices are at historic lows and the bovine hide trend is following a similar pattern. At theSauerReport we have been noticing for some time now that lower grade sheepskins and more recently lower grade cattle hides are simply being discarded into landfill or burnt as it is cheaper to do that than preserve or store them.

To give you some idea of today’s prices, you can buy a UK domestic sheepskin from a slaughterhouse for as little as 50p (US$0.64) per skin. A few years ago, that same skin could have cost 10 or 12 times as much.

It’s a similar pattern for bovine hides. At the beginning of November, you could buy a benchmark U.S. heavy Texas steerhide for US$36/piece or a U.S. heavy native cow for only US$13/piece. At the beginning of 2017 the same Texas steer hide was worth around US$62 per piece. A 42% drop, and I could provide many other examples of very sharp falls in hide and skin prices.

 

What has caused the decline?

So, what has caused the current collapse in the market? There are several reasons and the full picture is quite complex. But some of the main influencing factors are as follows:

Firstly, hide supply is outstripping leather demand. The global slaughter has been much higher in 2017 and 2018. Especially in places such as North America and Brazil, who have large cattle herds and slaughter. Despite the current trend for “all things vegan”, the global cull is actually rising driven by fast developing countries, especially China. An estimated 6.5 million extra hides will have entered the supply chain in 2018 compared with 2017.

Secondly, there has been a switch away from using leather in some market segments, especially footwear and garments, and the use of other materials has grown.

Thirdly, there is increasing negative publicity surrounding the leather supply chain mainly around animal welfare and environmental problems largely associated with a small minority of processors mostly in developing countries.

 

Leather alternatives – a case of greenwashing?

Many of the claims made by various companies, NGO’s and those on social media about the positive benefits of leather alternatives really do need to be scrutinised more closely by product designers and material buyers, especially when it comes to the so-called ecological benefits of many of these materials.

It does seem odd that with all the negative publicity around plastics at the moment, a very usable by-product from another industry is seen negatively to the point that perfectly useable materials are being thrown into landfill or burned.

If genuine leather is under the microscope for its sustainability credentials then surely it is incumbent on everyone to ensure that alternative materials really are equally tested. Are they as green as they say they are or is it just a case of greenwashing?

 

Leather has longevity in use

Focussing back to leather. Although not a perfect material, well-made leathers can perform well compared with other materials when it comes to sustainability. Leather is a by-product from the meat industry and itself has many other side products. It has longevity in use and can be recovered at the end-of-life or via offcuts to make other products.

A very good example of this is Elvis & Kresse’s partnership with Burberry to reuse leather offcuts to make other value-added items. There are many other examples.

In terms of recycling, many of the process steps in the tannery can be recycled and many of the more advanced leather manufacturers are recovering water, chemicals and energy from their processes. And maybe, one-day, we may see fully biodegradable leather where nutrients are put back into the soil to grow plants for animals to feed on which in turn makes more food and generates more leather as a by-product. A perfect example of a circular system.

 

Why now is a good time to source sustainable leathers?

Raw materials prices are at historic lows which means that tanners should be able to pass on some of this saving to their customers. Global oil prices are rising, and consumers are increasingly viewing plastics as unsustainable and polluting. Demand for meat globally will continue to be driven by growth in developing countries.

Leather is a by-product of another industry, it has longevity in its product life and well-made leather can be renewed and recycled. Many elements of the leather supply chain are continuously looking to reduce both their inputs and outputs during manufacture.

Genuine leather should continue to be included in the material mix for brands and retailers. Leather provides products with a natural, luxurious look and feel which adds long-lasting value to a wide range of products.


Martin Ricker

Content Director, International Leather Maker

martin@internationalleathermaker.com

Opportunity to Comment: USRSB Sustainability Framework

News Release

U.S. Beef Industry Leaders Release First-Ever National Framework for Beef Sustainability

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3, 2018) – The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) today opened a 60-day public comment period on the group’s Sustainability Framework.

The USRSB Sustainability Framework is a set of resources developed to assist ranchers, cattle auction markets, feedyards, packers, processors, and retail and food service organizations in their efforts to continuously improve the sustainability of U.S. beef.

“The Framework was developed from the collective efforts of more than 200 individuals who make up the USRSB and represent all segments of the beef value chain from producers to retailers, including non-governmental organizations and academic institutions,” said Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, JBS USA Sustainability Director and 2018 – 2019 USRSB Chair. “The USRSB membership has invested more than three years in developing these resources, which we believe will serve as an invaluable tool in enhancing U.S. beef sustainability and increasing economic opportunities in rural landscapes across America.”

The USRSB Framework highlights key areas important to the sustainability of beef and examines unique opportunities for each segment of the beef value-chain to identify opportunities to improve and reflect on their individual progress. Most importantly, the Framework is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is designed to address the needs of the diverse beef communities who produce, buy and sell beef.

“From the rancher to the consumer purchasing beef for their family meal, everyone plays a unique and important role in beef sustainability. The USRSB Framework was intentionally designed to apply to all sizes and types of operations and companies, no matter where they are in their sustainability journey,” Stackhouse-Lawson said. “This approach celebrates the diversity of the U.S. beef community, while providing enough flexibility to address the unique sustainability challenges across our national production system.”

The key areas identified by the USRSB as being important to the sustainability of beef are referred to as High-Priority Indicators. These include: animal health and well-being, efficiency and yield, employee safety and well-being, land resources, water resources, and air and greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability Metrics and Sustainability Assessment Guides serve as the segment-specific elements of the Framework tailored to address the unique challenges in the cow-calf, cattle auction market, feedyard, packer and processor, and retail and foodservice sectors.

“The USRSB Public Comment Period is an opportunity for us to listen. As we open this conversation to the public, we will build upon the USRSB’s foundational work with the important input from interested stakeholders,” said Stackhouse-Lawson. “Our journey is not complete after the comment period. The USRSB’s mission is to continuously improve, meaning we will always need to evaluate, assess, and adapt to ensure the U.S. beef value chain remains the trusted global leader in sustainable beef production.”

The USRSB Public Comment Period will end July 1. To learn more about the USRSB Sustainability Framework or to participate in the 60-day public comment period, visit www.USRSBFramework.org.

Contact:
Jaclyn Roberts
202-879-9134
jroberts@beef.org

###

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) is a multi-stakeholder initiative developed to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain. The USRSB achieves this through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. To learn more about the National Framework listen to this week’s Beltway Beef podcast or visit www.usrsbframework.org.

Survey

Help us come up with a name (and more)!

If you have been following our progress, you know that we will soon be establishing ourselves as a “roundtable” and operating through this venue to develop our work further.

We have created a very brief survey as a way for you to help us come up with a name, standardize our terminology, and give your interest in participating in one of our upcoming Task Groups and/or an in-person meeting. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes of your time, and your help is greatly appreciated!

Create your own user feedback survey

Stakeholder Meeting: March 29th

We invite anyone who is interested in learning more or taking part in the Responsible Leather Initiative (RLI) to join our stakeholder meeting on Thursday, March 29, 2018 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST / 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM CET.

Responsible Leather Initiative Stakeholder Meeting 

Thursday, March 29, 2018
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM CET

***NOTE: You MUST pre-register for this meeting at: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1899598041065793793

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the call.

All registrants will be automatically sent the recording after the webinar is finished, even if you do not attend. If you are interested, but cannot attend, it is still recommended to register for the meeting.

All meeting notes, slides, and recordings will be posted under Meeting Notes  2-3 days following the meeting.

Please contact us at ResponsibleLeather@TextileExchange.org with any questions or comments, or if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

Stakeholder Meeting: February 26th

We invite anyone who is interested in learning more or taking part in the Responsible Leather Initiative (RLI) to join our stakeholder meeting on Monday, February 26, 2018 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST / 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM CET.

Responsible Leather Initiative Stakeholder Meeting 

Monday, February 26, 2018
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST
4:00 AM – 5:30 PM CET

***NOTE: You MUST pre-register for this meeting at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7978095242815232515

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the call.

All registrants will be automatically sent the recording after the webinar is finished, even if you do not attend. So, if you are interested, but cannot attend, it is still recommended to register for the meeting.

All meeting notes, slides, and recordings will be posted under Meeting Notes  2-3 days following the meeting.

Please contact us at ResponsibleLeather@TextileExchange.org with any questions or comments, or if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

Stakeholder Meeting: February 6th

We invite anyone who is interested in learning more or taking part in the Responsible Leather Initiative (RLI) to join our first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST / 4:00 AM – 5:30 PM CET to hear about the work that has been done in 2017 and what our 2018 plan will be. If you are new to the RLI and plan on joining this call, please be sure to include your email address when signing in so that we may keep you on our correspondence list for future updates and meetings.

All meeting notes, slides, and recordings will be posted under Meeting Notes  2-3 days following the meeting.

Please contact us at ResponsibleLeather@TextileExchange.org with any questions or comments, or if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

Details for joining the call are below, or add it to your calendar here.

Responsible Leather Initiative Stakeholder Meeting 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST
4:00 AM – 5:30 PM CET

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