No residues. Zero emissions. Optimizing costs and saving resources. The new re-tanning agents they succeeded in obtaining are “pretty much free of charge”. German Lanxess, a chemical giant, designed an innovative project to support, develop and drastically change the management of residues coming from the tanning process. This is the reason why the multinational corporation won, in Koln, the Responsible Care national contest. We are talking about a global “competition” between chemical industry players, challenging each other on a few topical issues: how to enhance environmental performances, health and safety. VCI – German Chemicals Industry Association promoted the contest. The theme spotlighted on the latest edition was “Sustainability in the supply chain”.
Lanxess presented a new tool: ReeL, “Resource-efficient manufacturing of leather chemicals”. More specifically, it is a modular system: through its implementation, they can recycle all residues, coming from the leather manufacturing process, straight away. In addition, they can also produce some X-Biomer re-tanning agents deriving from such by-products.
An experimental plant
In the project, they have been building up an experimental plant in collaboration with INVITE Research Institute, based in Leverkusen. German Heller-Leder tannery, a “third partner”, tried and tested the process, therefore proving its feasibility. Lanxess announced they are currently designing eight manufacturing plants, “while consistently cooperating with the most important tanneries in Europe”.
“Sustainability is of paramount importance in the leather industry. The award we have lately received further evidences that we are doing well. In particular, waste residues recycling and materials cycle development are topical issues indeed – remarked Luis López-Remón, supervisor of Lanxess leather division –. ReeL is not just good and suitable for the environment, as tanners will take economic advantage of it as well”. Lanxess have recently decided to sell their (historic) business, related to chromium-based tanning chemicals manufacturing, to Chinese Brother Enterprise.