Highlights from the LWG Virtual Member Meeting, April 2021

Data-driven insights and digitalisation, supply chain transparency and traceability, collaboration, and enhanced consumer marketing were on the top of the agenda at the 2021 LWG Virtual Member’s Meeting.  

The Leather Working Group (LWG) hosted its spring member meeting over two duplicate virtual sessions on 27/28 April 2021, open to representatives of all member companies from across the global leather supply chain.  

Members who missed the meeting can access the meeting slides and recording by logging in to the Member Area. 

LWG Membership & Benchmarking 

As of April 2021, LWG boasts over 1150 members, comprised of 64% Certified Leather Manufacturers (tanneries), 14% Brands/Retailers, 9% Audited Traders, 8% Suppliers (such as chemical companies, machinery suppliers, etc.), and more.  

Despite the ongoing global challenges as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, LWG’s membership has continued to grow, and more facilities have become certified than ever before. In fact, there was a 53% increase in Brand/Retailer Members and a 40% increase in Leather Manufacturers obtaining LWG certification in the last year alone.  

Leather Industry Insight 

Every year, the LWG opens a membership-wide survey to allow key stakeholders from across the leather supply chain to give their feedback on the recent work and future direction of the group. One of LWG’s most valuable tools, the 2021 Member Survey received submissions from 336 companies, representing the highest response rate to date.  

Our members identified the following key priority areas for future development: 

  • chemical compliance 

  • social responsibility 

  • environmental footprint 

  • traceability & reducing deforestation 

Future Direction of LWG 

Over time, the LWG has grown into the largest single multi-stakeholder organisation for the leather industry, representing a major force for change. As such, our scope has changed and expanded over time, our mission aligning with the needs of our members and the changing landscape of the industry and regulation.  

Going forward, we aim to improve the impact of the LWG supply chain in a holistic way, cementing our audit protocols as the overarching standard for leather manufacturing, covering all elements & actors in the leather value chain.  

To help us achieve this, we will work towards providing detailed information on key up-stream and down-stream topics, enabling brands and other members to make informed decisions. We’ll also focus on expanding and strengthening our collaborations and communicating more effectively to consumers. 

Auditing & Our Standards 

We launched Version 7.0 of the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol (P7) in February this year and it will become mandatory on 22 August, following the 6-month introductory period. We anticipate some minor updates to the protocol in the coming months, and expect to begin development on P8 in 2022, which will build on the key changes made in P7. 

For more details, please visit the Protocol 7.0 page on the LWG website

Animal Welfare Group (AWG) Update 

Over the last year, the LWG Animal Welfare Group (AWG) has continued to provide information for our members through the AWG Country Profiles, the new AWG animal welfare guide (developed in partnership with Progressive Beef and RSPCA), suggested animal welfare sourcing policies, and more. 

If you are interested in joining the AWG, please get in touch with us directly.  

Traceability 

The launch of our latest audit protocol, we’ve introduced new measures for enhanced traceability of material in the leather supply chain. We are also working collaboratively with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to identify solutions for reducing deforestation and the conversion of natural landscapes.  

Find more detail on how we’re addressing traceability and deforestation here.  

LWG Tannery of the Future self-assessment tool 

Launching earlier this year, the digital training portal for the LWG Tannery of the Future tool offers tanneries the chance to understand the key concepts of best practice in leather manufacturing and identify areas for improvement. Brands can direct their un-audited suppliers to the tool, so they can complete their own self-assessment and create a plan for improvement. 

See more about the LWG Tannery of the Future tool here

Chemical Compliance – Bisphenols & Skin Sensitisers 

LWG is aware of ongoing discussions related to the levels of bisphenols and skin sensitising chemicals used in leather production. In particular, there is a proposal from the EU to introduce new restrictions in the next 4-5 years. Our Supplier members have been briefed on this development and we will continue to update our membership as new developments arise.