LWG launches largest ever lifecycle assessment study for leather

Northampton, UK — 12 November 2021: The Leather Working Group (LWG) announces the launch of the largest lifecycle assessment (LCA) for the leather industry, to investigate the environmental impact of leather made in LWG-certified facilities.  

Working with Milan-based sustainability consultancy Spin360, the LWG kicks off the first phase of their lifecycle assessment of leather, which will be based on the material made in LWG-certified leather manufacturing facilities.  

Bruno Kestenband, Leather Responsible Sourcing Manager at Richemont International, said: 

“The LCA is a key tool to show the environmental advances made by the tanning industry and the future trade-offs it should address. It removes subjectivity and allows us, as buyers of tanned leather, to address the real causes of environmental impacts of leather.” 

In the first phase of the project, LWG and Spin360 will define the study’s goal and scope. This will include defining the type of leather that will be considered in the study, as well as factors such as geographical origin, animal type, tanning technologies and the industries served (footwear, apparel, upholstery, etc.). The newly launched LWG Environmental Impact Working Group will lend their knowledge and expertise to the goal and scope definition phase of the LCA, to ensure the work is representative and valuable to the LWG community.   

LWG’s LCA study will collect and analyse data from a minimum of 40 leather manufacturers based in various regions across the globe — making it the largest ever LCA conducted for the leather industry. By maximising and diversifying the data collected, the study will aim to include a wide representation of leather made in LWG-certified facilities.  

Fernando Bellese, Chief Sustainability Officer at PrimeAsia Leather Company, said: 

“The LWG LCA is an exciting initiative. Discussions around the impact of leather have often been based on outdated information and assumptions. It is very positive to see a renowned organization such as LWG leading this sector-wide assessment, generating updated, scientific-based data about the industry. The LCA will also be very helpful in providing further improvement insights and opportunities for LWG to continue generating additional environmental efficiencies for the global leather sector.” 

During the data collection phase, the study will draw on information about the raw material, energy usage, chemicals, water consumption, water and air emissions, and waste management — all of which is already collected and validated as part of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit. The study will also collect additional information from leather manufacturers directly. 

The Life Cycle Impact Assessment will be thoroughly peer reviewed and will be aligned with the most relevant provisions of the ISO 14040 on data quality, including time related coverage, geographical coverage, technology coverage, representativeness, and consistency. It will provide insights into a range of environmental impact categories such as global warming potential (climate change), abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), eutrophication, water resource depletion and toxicity. 

Using the data and insights generated by the LWG LCA, brands and retailers will be able to make science-based sourcing decisions and progress towards their supply chain sustainability goals. This will further empower brands to understand the full impact of their products and even communicate more clearly to consumers. 

In addition, the LWG will utilise the results from the LCA to further refine the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol, ensuring that LWG remains the world leading environmental certification for leather manufacturing.  

About the Leather Working Group (LWG)

The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a membership organisation composed of over 1450 members across the leather value chain, including leather manufacturers, brands, suppliers, traders, and associations. The group develops audit certification standards to assess the environmental performance of leather manufacturing facilities and promotes responsible practices in the leather supply chain.

For more information about the Leather Working Group, please visit the LWG website: https://www.leatherworkinggroup.com/ 

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