Understanding where the material that makes our footwear or leather products has come from is now a concern for many consumers. This became an important issue for the LWG when the connection between cattle ranching and deforestation was identified by NGOs as a major problem.

Deforestation has global significance and NGOs have been involved in the ongoing situation, exerting pressure where they can.

 Many global brands have been challenged to review their supply chain policies in relation to deforestation and, as an environmental stewardship group with the objective of promoting sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry, the LWG also has a role to play.
To this end the LWG has included a section within the audit protocol to assess a supplier’s ability to be able to trace their raw material back to the slaughterhouse. This will ultimately ensure that the leather manufacturers within the LWG program have a clear understanding of where their raw material is originating from. With this information and in co-operation with NGOs, the LWG aims to reduce the impact cattle ranching has on deforestation around the world.

Within the leather industry the ability to trace material can be variable depending on the scope of production, the location and the type of material processed. Typically, those sourcing directly from slaughterhouses have good traceability as opposed to those that buy through traders or produce from semi-processed material.

Currently, a leather manufacturer’s ability to trace their material is scored depending on the percentage traceable and the method of traceability. The LWG considers the physical stamping of the material the most robust method at this time.