Ecotan, the next step in leather sustainability

Ecotan, the next step in leather sustainability

There’s only one way to save leather: recycling. Only in this way we can give new life to waste products and help safeguard the future of our planet. Silvateam took the first step on this path by developing Ecotan, a recyclable, metal-free and glutaraldehyde-free leather made using natural tannins, biopolymers and sustainable finishing products, safe for humans and the environment. Both finished articles and scraps from Ecotan leathers are designed to be bio-circular. In fact, through a process of acid hydrolysis, they return to nature as fertilizers for organic farming.


Tanning has always been considered a model of the circular economy since it processes a byproduct of the food industry, hides, and transforms them into one of the most valuable, breathable and durable materials for the production of fashion and design accessories: leather. Ecotan, as explained by Silvateam, adds the next step in the circularity of leather by allowing for the recycling of leather items and scraps at the end of their useful life. In this way, leather closes the cycle sustainability, returning to nature as a useful nutrient which increases the yield of agricultural output and, consequently, also of the livestock production from which the raw material for tanning is initially derived.

Communicating the true value of leather to the consumer

Even though Ecotan offers a viable solution to recycle nearly 90% of leather applications, there’s still a long way before complete circularity is achieved. The footwear, leather goods and automotive sectors will have to focus on the engineering of leather items. For example, recyclable shoes require components that can be dismantled. The delay in the leather industry regarding recyclability has generated difficulties that we know well: plastic-based materials that are marketed as “eco” substitutes for leather. It is necessary, Silvateam concludes, for the fashion industry to develop fully recyclable and sustainable leather articles. And to communicate to the consumer the value of this noble material of natural origin.

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