Environmentally friendly leather made in China25 February 2008
As the world is looking to China to improve its environmental impact, a 100% German owned tannery in Guangzhou, China, has taken up the challenge. ISA Tan Tec have developed the LITE Leather branded product line to help ‘the world environment while producing high performance leather products with Low Impact To the Environment'
The LITE concept applies to all leathers being produced at their tannery, where they are measuring every possible production stage and its environmental impact. They are measuring CO2 emissions and found that, just by doing this, they have reduced their emissions by 30%. The tannery has more than 900 employees and is one of the leading suppliers of leathers to globally recognised brands such as Timberland, Keen, Rockport, ECCO and Cole Haan. Over the past few years, ISA have made numerous investments into various human rights and environmental activities and have launched a programme in China where handicapped workers are being taught how to make various items using leathers made by ISA. Green Tanners of China ISA's CEO, Thomas Schneider, also founded the Green Tanners Association of China. This group has been working to improve conditions in all tanneries, and is supported by a high profile mixture of other foreign investment tanneries. ‘It is our job to provide our customers with environmental friendly leathers as well as our social responsibility to actively work for better environmental conditions', says Schneider. The foundation of the GTC (Green Tanners Association of China) was initiated by ISA Tan Tec in November 2006. Members are tanners in the automotive, furniture and shoe leather sectors. Schneider is the chairman of the GTC. Heat recovery Further steps to reduce the impact to environment include recovery of heat through a system of recycling. The first prototype is scheduled for launch by the end of October 2007. This experiment will provide them with the data for measuring real reduction in energy consumption levels. The impact will create energy savings when full implementation occurs. Even though the amount of oil necessary for the boiler is reduced, they still require fossil fuels for operations. They are developing equipment to clean the exhaust as well as recycle generated heat. Their aim is to have the prototype installed by the end of 2007. ‘Currently 15% of our waters are recycled and we know we can do better!' In September 2007, with the support of the German government, they began intensive research on water recycling for the process. Their target is to recycle 30% of process water by 2008. Using plants for water purification is a low cost and environmental friendly procedure since no electricity or chemicals are needed. They are running a pilot plant for studies on this technique. The company are driven by the conviction that controlling the greenhouse effect is the major environmental issue for the future. Through the use of alternative renewable sources of energy, equipment, chemicals, recycling, and the latest available technology in leather manufacturing, ISA can now offer the market materials which have the highest performance necessary, while drastically reducing CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process. The development and promotion of the LITE Leather project is part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme implemented by ISA Industrial with support from DEG - Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH - one of Europe's largest development finance institutions (http://www.deginvest.de/EN_Home/index.jsp). Environmental protection is one of the key targets within the Sino-German development cooperation. Furthermore, the mitigation of greenhouse gases is a major challenge for the future. Energy and water-intensive industries such as tanneries can play an important role in environmental protection and emission reductions. By initialising best practice examples and exemplary innovative solutions among affected industries, the project intends to encourage further tanneries to imitate selected measures for improving their impacts to the environment. Because of the structural and broad effects expected to go far beyond the premises of ISA Industrial and to have positive environmental and, therefore, developmental impacts, DEG co-finances the project with PPP funds provided by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Steps to achieve production with a Low Impact To Environment:
- 30% of the hot water consumed in production processes will be generated through solar heating
- An additional 35% of hot water is obtained from cooling devices of existing production equipment
- Low temperature drying equipment ensures less energy consumption for heat creation. Less energy = less CO2
- The ISA tannery only uses energy saving light sources. In addition, 86% of their finishing equipment uses the latest application technology. Lighter coats and the elimination of gas emissions result in a drastic reduction in the energy needed for drying as well as eliminating air pollution.
- promote consistency, transparency and credibility in GHG quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification
- enable organizations to identify and manage GHG-related liabilities, assets and risks
- facilitate the trade of GHG allowances or credits
- support the design, development and implementation of comparable and consistent GHG schemes or programmes.