LWG’s Virtual Autumn Member Meeting 2021

The Leather Working Group hosted their fourth bi-annual Member Meeting on 12-13 October? 

For the second year in a row, the LWG hosted?their autumn Member’s Meeting virtually, in lieu of their regular in-person event in Milan, Italy. Over 220 attendees across the global LWG membership joined the online sessions to hear from speakers and learn more about LWG’s current and future workstreams. 

The meeting was opened by Ian Scher, VP Procurement at PrimeAsia Leather Company and Chair of the LWG Executive Committee, followed by an update on our membership and auditing process.  

Membership Update 

Matt Parker, LWG Membership Executive, advised that the LWG has grown to over 1400 members, as of the end of September 2021. Some notable new members include Bentley Automotive, Levis, Richemont, Textile Exchange, WWF, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). 

Damien Doyle, LWG Administrator, gave an update on the growth in the number of LWG-certified suppliers. As of September 2021, there are over 1130 certified members of the LWG, including leather manufacturers, traders, subcontractors, and commissioning manufacturers. In the nine months since the beginning of the 2021-22 membership year, the LWG has seen over 199 first-time audits, and is set to exceed our previous record of 215 first time audits, for the 2020-21 year. 

Christina Trautmann, LWG Programme Manager, briefed our members on changes to our Executive Committee, including ECCO Leather’s recent election to the group. Christina also provided an overview of LWG’s main collaboration partners, including NWF and WWF, who are working with the LWG on topics related to traceability; Textile Exchange, who recognise the LWG Bronze Medal Rating as the minimum standard n their leather production benchmark; Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), who recommend LWG as part of their environmentally preferred material guide; and 1% for the Planet, who recently admitted LWG as a Non-Profit Member.  

Future Direction 

The Chairman of the LWG Executive Committee, Ian Scher, gave an overview of the group’s forward strategy and how it ties to our mission to improve the impact of the LWG supply chain across six key workstreams: 

  1. Training, engagement, & protocol development 

  1. Communication & marketing 

  1. Digitalization, data analysis, & automation 

  1. Understanding leather’s environmental impact  

  1. Traceability and supply chain transparency  

  1. Collaborations and strategic partnerships 

Auditing Update 

Mark Lucas, LWG Technical Manager & Auditor, briefed members on the updates made to our flagship audit standard, the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol 7.1 (P7), which became mandatory for all leather manufacturer audits on 22 August 2021. In addition, members were made aware of LWG’s timeline for audit development, including revisions to the audit standards for leather manufacturers, subcontractors, traders, and commissioning manufacturers.  

Stuart Cranfield, an independent consultant, provided an update on LWG’s recognition of social audit schemes and certifications, with further information on how our social requirements may evolve in the future as more schemes become recognised. 

Christina Trautmann, LWG Programme Manager, advised the LWG membership on the group’s plans to align its audit development process with the ISEAL Standard Setting Code of Good Practice. This will include opening our audits for public consultation before they become mandatory.  

Finally, Mark Lucas also introduced LWG’s new collaboration with wastewater treatment plants, which will collect effluent data and create a central resource for the LWG Auditors.  

Traceability & Transparency 

Vanessa Brain, the LWG’s newly appointed Traceability Project Manager, went through our ongoing work designed to increase the level of traceability within the leather supply chain. LWG is committed to driving engagement and improved traceability through protocol developments, industry engagement, aligning with our membership and external experts; and by providing tools & resources 

Animal Welfare 

Peter Hughes, AWG Facilitation Lead, presented an update on the recent work of the LWG Animal Welfare Group (AWG). In the future, the group will create an interactive summary of global animal welfare information, using the AWG country profile reports as a basis. In addition, the AWG will provide its members with a checklist for determining animal welfare performance within their supply chains, as well as educational webinars from external experts on topics such as regenerative agriculture. 

Environmental Impact 

Leticia Millward, LWG Sustainability Project Manager, briefed our membership on the work the LWG is doing to full quantify and understand the real environmental impact of leather, with the goal of providing data and metrics to members. Furthermore, members were invited to join the recently launched LWG Environmental Impact Working Group, to help contribute their knowledge to this development topic.  

Claims & Labelling 

Jennifer Toes, LWG Communications & Events Coordinator, talked through the LWG Claims Framework and how brands can communicate about LWG to their consumers. In the future, LWG aims to empower brands to make more specific claims about their leather sourcing, making sure they follow best practice guidelines for green claims. 

LWG Tannery of the Future 

Co-Chair of the Tannery of the Future (TOTF) Sub-Group, Egbert Dikkers?(of Smit & zoon), presented an overview of LWG’s foundational self-assessment tool, launched as a digital version earlier this year. The TOTF tool gives leather manufacturers a guide on their current operational performance, allowing them to understand their readiness to undergo a full LWG audit. 

Chemical Update 

Dietrich Tegtmeyer (TFL), Chair of the LWG Supplier Sub-Group, advised attendees on upcoming legislative changes that may impact future use, formulation and procurement practices relate to bisphenols. 

Members can access the meeting recording and slides during the Member Area of our website