Traceability of leather to the original farm is not easy - but possible
Leather is excellent material for durable, comfortable and good looking shoes. It is also a by-product of the meat industry, and the resource is renewable. Ethical and environmental side of the meat and leather industry has been under surveillance for years, best available tool today for transparency is the Leather Working Group, LWG.
“Leather Working Group consists of brands, manufacturers, suppliers, NGOs and end users. The objective of this multi-stakeholder group is to develop and maintain a protocol that assesses the environmental compliance and performance capabilities of leather manufacturers and promotes sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry.”
Sustainability is a journey also for tanneries, and working within LWG is a step-by-step journey. Lowest step is that the tannery is willing to become a member and open for an audit. When audited and pointed for corrective actions, the tannery will improve gradually and reach next steps, from bronze-rated to gold level. As tannery reaches gold level, it means that it scores 85% of all requirements from the Environmental management system to Restricted substances and Emergency plans.
When Icebug started to nominate LWG certified leather, we knew that this would affect the supply chain and increase the cost of our products. Quality normally costs more. The tanneries have to invest for new machinery, the safety of working conditions and take proper care of all the side product, wastewater, and chemicals that are related to the tanning processes. During the process, we noted that when explained properly, our customers are willing to accept this small rise in price. We also learned that traceability of leather to original farm is not easy but possible, and responsible farmers take care of their free pasturing animals all the way to slaughterhouse.
Today we nominate gold-rated leathers only to ensure that all points of LWG audit protocol are in place and our customer receives products that are safely produced and safe to use. The only exception is for some existing styles that are under certification, such as our safety products.