Moving towards a more secure leather supply chain

Following the launch of the LWG Subcontractor Audit, the Leather Working Group will phase out the ‘Mini Audit’ in favour of mandatory subcontractor certification.

By mid-2022, the Leather Working Group will require all subcontractors used by LWG-audited leather manufacturers to obtain their own certification via the LWG Subcontractor Audit.

Launched late in 2020, the LWG Subcontractor Audit Protocol was designed to directly assess and certify companies completing subcontracting operations on behalf of third parties. Once assessed, a subcontractor’s environmental performance can be taken into account when their customers are audited via the LWG Environmental Audit Protocol or the LWG Commissioning Manufacturer Audit Protocol.

Prior to the launch of this new certification, subcontractors were assessed via a ‘Mini Audit’ as part of their customer’s own assessment under the existing LWG Environmental Audit Protocol. The Mini Audit did not confer any form of certification and subcontractors would be required to undergo multiple Mini Audits every year as their customers underwent the audit process.

Under the LWG Subcontractor Audit Protocol, subcontractors are thoroughly assessed and awarded a two-year certification, becoming members of LWG as a result. As more and more subcontractors achieve certification, LWG-audited leather manufacturers will be able to choose new subcontractors from a pre-approved list via the LWG website.

In addition, the new audit protocol plays a key role in the launch of another certification standard for Commissioning Manufacturers, facilitating full assessment of their entire production chain.

At the moment, subcontractors may choose to obtain their own 2-year certification via the LWG Subcontractor Audit Protocol, or they may be assessed via the Mini Audit. However, LWG plans to phase out the Mini Audit over 2021-22, making the Subcontractor Audit certification a mandatory requirement. For tanners, this means they must ensure any subcontracting operations that are carried out are done so by certified suppliers.  

The 12-month transition period for subcontractors will begin when Version 7.0 of the LWG Environmental Audit Protocol (P7) becomes mandatory in Q3 2021. As such, LWG will encourage subcontractors to become certified during this time and make sure tanners are aware that this change is on the horizon.

If you have any further questions about the LWG Subcontractor Audit Protocol, please get in touch with our administration office directly.