Responsible Leather

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

Category: News

Join us for the Leather Learning Webinar Series

The Leather Learning Series is a three-part series to educate brands and retailers on the many aspects of leather, its production, and where it comes from.

Join us on October 13th  for  “Leather Processing: Stages, Challenges, Solutions”, part 3 of the Leather Learning Series, where our speakers will shed light on the stages of leather processing, environmental and social challenges, chemical management, and available solutions in the sector.


  • Michael Costello, Group Director of ESG at Stahl
  • Fernando Bellese, Chief Sustainability Officer at PrimeAsia Leather Company
  • Dr. Julian Schenten, Senior Researcher at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences
  • Deborah Taylor, Consultant at United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Register here


Impact Credits become Impact Incentives!

Impact Credits become Impact Incentives!

After discussions within our team and also with the Impact Alliance partners, GRSB and Proterra, we have decided to change the name of the Impact Credits to Impact Incentives.  We agree that the term ‘incentive’ more accurately describes what we are trying to do: they will be used to encourage and reward farmers to follow best practices.  We also avoid some of the assumptions that are connected to credit trading, and can set up the Impact Incentives to be a flexible and powerful tool to meet the needs of farmers and brands, and to drive real systems change.

You can learn more at

Message from Anne Gillespie, Director of Impact Acceleration

Message from Anne Gillespie, Director of Impact Acceleration

Hello Responsible Leather Stakeholders,

Did you know there are over 500 of you who have officially opted in for Responsible Leather communications?  That speaks to the relevance of the work we are doing.  And now that we are definitely into the new year, I wanted to take a moment to look at where we are at and think about how to move forward.

There are literally thousands of public corporate sustainability goals that have set 2020 targets, yet we all know that few of them are being achieved and the world is feeling the effects.  Rather than dwell on the negative outcomes that we are experiencing, I want to urge everyone to feel motivated to take action. If you need to move your targets out another five or ten years, do it, but make them even more ambitious and get acting now.  In 2030 our kids will be thankful for the actions we did take and angry about the ones we didn’t.

I see the work on Responsible Leather being a significant opportunity for everyone to drive positive change. Our team is highly motivated to complete the Responsible Leather program and the Impact Credits in the first quarter of this year. Then we will move to piloting, revision, and hope to be celebrating the final release with all of you at our annual conference in Ireland the first week of November.

We need your help to do this!  This is your opportunity to Make A Difference, and set this new decade on the right track. We will be holding our next Responsible Leather International Working Group call on February 4, and will have some exciting progress to share with you then.  Until then, I am urging you to complete one or more of the action challenges we have set out:

ACTION #1: Pledge to Fund the Responsible Leather work for 2020 

ACTION #2: Become a voting member of the Responsible Leather International Working Group (RL IWG)

ACTION #3: RL IWG Feedback survey 

ACTION #4: Impact Credit Market Potential survey 

More Opportunities to Participate

Social Welfare

In addition to the M.A.D. Challenge, Nicole Lambert is starting the work on defining the social welfare expectations for Responsible Leather production.  If you are interested in being on Scope Committee calls to help figure this out, please contact her directly:


As we work towards completing the first draft for Responsible Leather and Impact Credits, we are looking for brands that would be willing to pilot the credit trading for animal welfare and/or deforestation-conversion-free, as well as the leather production benchmark.  Please contact any of us if you would be willing.

We can only do this together, so please take a few minutes and refresh your engagement with us.  I promise it will be worthwhile!

Thanks for your ongoing support,

Anne Gillespie | Director of Impact Acceleration


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

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

Jaclyn Roberts


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

© 2020 Responsible Leather

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑