BLC close to finalising Restorm from EC

13 December 2001

The BLC Leather Technology Centre is in the final negotiation stage with the European Commission for a major new project - RESTORM (Radical Environmentally Sustainable Tannery Operation by Resource Management). The Euro10 million (US$8.8 million) EC supported project will include twenty partners from eight countries. The project will take place over four years and will include in excess of 100 man years of research. The aim of Restorm is to conduct research directed at resource management, to assist European tanners to change production methods to ensure a sustainable manufacturing industry for the future. The project outcomes are envisaged to be spread over the next twenty years, in the following way: * Short term (5 Years) Research will be used to 'close the loop' in the existing processes, so that both water and chemicals can be removed and reused. Solid wastes can be used to produce new materials. Energy studies will reduce consumption. * Medium term (10 Years) Although closing the loop will have a great impact on leather production, fundamentally the chemical process itself needs to be addressed. The medium term aim is to move from chemical processing in the beamhouse to biochemical processing. This will involve investigating the use of enzymes to replace current chemicals. The consequences for leather properties and performance and for byproduct generation will be determined. * Long term (20 Years) The project will provide the basis for ascertaining the potential for using waste from hides and skins in new ways. The potential to produce alternative products based on collagen will be addressed, specifically biomedical applications. This project will aim to look at the leather producing industry from a new perspective, to view traditional waste as a valuable resource for the production of high value, novel materials.

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