The Leather Manufacturers section of the Leather Working Group collects a total 539 tanneries from across the world. These tanneries are the ones that have started the procedure to face, reads the LWG site, “the environmental audit protocol”, which in its “original form has been developed by brands and tanneries, with the assistance of non-for profits organizations such as WWF and Greenpeace”. A protocol that, at the end of the project, includes the awarding of three medals (awards): Gold, Silver and Bronze. If the tannery doesn’t receive any of these awards, it is included in the “audited” list. What does that mean?
The LWG protocol has “critical” sections as well as “non-critical” ones. The first have a specific score given to each aspect, that end up defining the final rating. The non-critical ones do not influence the score. For example, the first ones include the permits requested by the environmental legislation and regulations. But water and energy consumption, the type of process utilized and choice of external providers, all go in the final score. If a tannery gets a score of 65, equal to a Bronze ranking, in one of the sections, while in the rest it reaches gold-lever points-amount, the tannery will still only be given a Bronze award. So, when a tannery purchases a quota of semi-finished material from a supplier that isn’t a member of the LWG, there is the concrete possibility that it won’t receive any award at all.
539 tanneries (as of December 5th, 2019). Inside this total number there are a lot of entities located in India. LGW’s ranking in fact, is led by New Delhi, with 123 evaluated tanneries. 80 are gold (65% of the total), 11 Silver, 11 Bronze and 21 Audited. China can also account on its relevant presence in the LGW ranking. The result for Chinese tanneries were: 99 total, 81 gold (nearly 82%), 15 Silver, 2 Bronze and 1 Audited. 65 were Brazilian, 56 of which (equal to 86% of the total) got a gold medal. Vietnam, while smaller in number (only 14 audited), got 10 gold medals (equal to 71.5%).
What about Europe? LWG audited 55 Italian tanneries (on behalf of the brands that made the request). Of those: 9 gold (16.3%), 14 silver, 12 bronze and 20 audited. LWG also audited tanneries in Germany, awarding gold to 3 of them, while the other two didn’t make the cut to bronze. Only 2 tanneries in France are part of the LWG system: 1 gold and 1 audited. Of the 2 English tanneries audited 1 got bronze while the other one remained “audited”. Uganda’s tanneries got 2 silver out of 0 audited tanneries. These numbers demonstrate how LGW’s protocol is one that has a difficult time evaluating the actually environmentally responsible practices of the tanning industry, as it completely misses the effective and well recognized excellence of the processes and products of European tanneries.
- UNIC sign agreement protocol with Leather Working Group
- Italian Leather 12 goals in the 2019 Sustainability Report