Sustainability, circularity, value: focus on Italian leather top quality at the World Footwear Congress

On Thursday afternoon, at the World Footwear Congress, which took place in Naples, they sent a “loud and clear” message about Italian leather sustainability, circularity and “top quality”. To begin with, Ana Maria Vasconcelos, owner of Belcinto, a well-known Portuguese leather manufacturing company, and vice-president of APICAPPS, pointed out: “Although I have been vegetarian for 20 years, I have always made use of leather”. Namely, Italian leather, vegetable-tanned, which is “sustainable, in contrast to what vegans say and products they use, which derive from oil”. As for vegans, “they talk, as many others do, about environment, sustainability and circularity, but they do not understand the meaning of their own words”. What a perfect prompt for the speech given by Graziano Balducci (Antiba, in the picture on the stage at Palazzo Reale, Naples), president of SSIP and vice-president of UNIC – Italian Tanneries. During an interview, granted together with Claudio Marenzi (President of Confindustria Moda), to journalist Maria Concetta Mattei, he spoke clear, in black and white, about the identity of Italy’s leather tanning industry, “which is already working hard on sustainability and circularity at rather advanced stages”. The industry “turnover amounts to 5 billion euros a year; over 15 years, they cut down water consumption (-27%), energy consumption (-28%) and waste production, which decreased by 14% (Ed.: data provided by UNIC)”. In addition: “Italian leather successfully drives job opportunities for around 40,000 companies and 2 million employees; companies that make use of it reach about 90 to 95 billion euros, in terms of revenues, on annual basis”. Such outstandingly good figures subsequently drive further value for the whole fashion industry. Which, as emphasized by Marenzi, must become “more determined while showing its sustainability, which is a peculiar quality of Italy’s leather industry”. On the one hand, Marenzi stressed the fact that mass market and fast fashion players raised the environmental impact standards. On the other hand, Balducci wrapped up by saying that plastic is much younger, compared to leather, but “still we are not able to treat it, whereas leather itself is a food scrap whose waste products subsequently turn into something else. After all, oceans are full of heaps of plastic, not of leather…”

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