June 28, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Leather

Tasman Leathers of New Zealand is proud to be a member of Leather Naturally, a not-for-profit industry association that promotes sustainably made leather. Leather Naturally aims to create dialogue between leather supply chains, manufacturers and consumers. With this, they ensure that designers, creators and consumers feel informed and inspired by the beauty of sustainable leather.

As part of Leather Naturally’s involvement in educating the industry, they’ve put together a range of informative resources. Their FAQ guide ‘Everything You Need to Know About Leather’ separates the facts from fiction. Below is a summary of the key points you need to know about leather:

Leather is a by-product

The hides and skins of cattle are a by-product of the food industry—animals are not raised to make leather. The demand for animal meat amongst consumers means that leather, as a raw material, is generated renewably. The hides and skins would simply go to landfill if it were not used to make leather.

Leather is recyclable and biodegradable

Leather is known for its quality and durability, both being attributes that have major environmental advantages as leather will last a long time if taken care of. Despite this, leather is also biodegradable due to its makeup of elements that bacteria and fungi like to eat: carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. This means that in a regular landfill, leather will usually biodegrade between 10 and 50 years—much faster than synthetic materials like PVC or polypropylene that can take over 500 years to break down.

Recycled leather is an area that is expanding rapidly as work continues to be done to produce more diverse options. Creative companies are designing products such as carpets built from small pieces of leather, and even leather trimmings get used for stuffing items like punching bags for boxing. New uses are being developed quickly.

Leather doesn’t have a big carbon footprint

An in-depth study carried out by the European Commission assessed the environmental footprint of different products. Their evaluation of bovine leather found that the environmental footprint carry-over from the animal’s lifecycle is as little as 0.42%.


For more informative resources on leather, visit Leather Naturally’s online fact sheets at www.leathernaturally.org/Education/Fact-Sheets/. To find out how Tasman Leathers of New Zealand can work with you, contact us at info@tastan.co.nz or visit www.tastan.co.nz