Hoping for a less hectic year

Sam setter

Posted: 04 January 2022

Credit: Clay Banks

Sam Setter looks back on some key moments that closed 2021 for the leather industry and reflects on what we have in store for the year ahead.

We just ended 2021, a year of ups and downs. At first all seemed lost, until things started to pick up in the middle of the year only to fall back into depression at the end thanks to the Omicron variant.

The question is, what will happen in 2022, for which I send all my best wishes for health and prosperity. I wish 2022 to be in part a repeat of 2021, where at first the industry and people will be faced with problems, which will dissipate in the first month creating opportunities after the first trimester and that, with vaccinations reaching the highest possible levels, there will be no pullback as in the fourth quarter of 2021.


It is out of the question that I will not embark on the COP26 where many had a lot to say, some totally absurd, and where we unfortunately had no audience. Just to give a quick example: Prince Charles mentioned that leather, if produced in a sustainable way, would be the ideal material. We have highlighted these comments on all leather-related media, but newspapers have given it little or no importance. Stella McCartney on the contrary has been quoted in all the newspapers as saying that leather should be officially banned.

People seem to be willing to listen to nonsense and accept lies rather than evidence. COP26 did not give the leather industry any chance despite the fact that the LHCA, ICT and Leather Naturally, supported by several leather industry associations, had prepared the submission of a very reasonable and objective manifesto to the COP26.

The manifesto was neither included in the official agenda nor mentioned anywhere during the event. In short, our industry has been totally ignored. Stella McCartney was rather in the limelight. Our honesty is totally overshadowed by the bias that is launched by the anti-leather lobby. Meanwhile, little emphasis has been placed on the contradiction of the more than 400 private jets flying through Glasgow carrying people who believe they are committed to improving the environment and who all warn of the GHGs that are being produced .

EU President Ursula Von Der Leyden, to name just one, in her words at COP26, a “staunch conservationist”, regularly makes short trips of just 100 miles in a jet private paid by European taxpayers.


Contrary to what I previously thought, Lineapelle last September was a success, limited of course by the circumstances of the pandemic, but nevertheless a success. There were a lot more visitors than expected and those who visited did so with purpose.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true for the All African Leather Fair, which organizers call “Africa’s largest and most important international exhibition and conference dedicated to leather, accessories, components, synthetics and footwear designs.” , leather goods, cars and furniture ”.

The fair was held from December 3-6 and I counted less than 10 tanneries exhibiting at the fair which seems, Covid or not, to get smaller and smaller with lukewarm participation from local industry. We also wonder how a leather fair can also promote synthetics, especially in these very difficult times for the leather industry, where greenwashing of plastic alternatives is accepted and where no one listens to the arguments of circular and sustainable performance. leather as a raw material for shoes. , clothing and upholstery.

Surprisingly, the event did not require proof of vaccination or negative PCR tests to enter the place, so one entered at his own risk as the temperature control does not guarantee anything in terms of health safety. Next March, we will once again be able to take the temperature of the industry in Dubai, where the next APLF exhibition will be held. The move from Hong Kong to Dubai appears to have received significant approval from the industry in general. Who knows, it might even last!

I don’t know about you, but I have invitations for an average of three to four seminars a week and frankly it becomes more of a burden than an opportunity to learn something. Most of the seminars focus on sustainability and deforestation, where the nuance remains an accusing note against our industry rather than a solution provider.

The Textile Exchange seminar in mid-December was a clear example of accusations against the leather industry by people outside our industry and one wonders why they don’t clean their own homes before looking at others. Perhaps the emphasis on the leather industry is a way of distracting people from the problems of the textile industry. The seminar listed hides and skins as a co-product of the meat industry and, when someone protested against this ridiculous assumption, the issue was dealt with summarily by one of the panel members responding “waste”. product, by-product, co-product, whatever. “This is, in my opinion, totally unacceptable!

Fiji mineral water

Sustainability is now the most important and most misused slogan. In one of my presentations, I mentioned that the transport of mineral water from Fiji to the United States or Danish butter to South Africa is totally unsustainable from an environmental point of view. The carbon footprint of transporting a liter of water or a kilogram of butter is enormous and completely unnecessary.

We have similar situations in the leather industry, where tanneries import raw materials and / or semi-tanned leather from other continents, which has been happening for decades, but not as part of a business exercise. ‘audit. In some parts of the world, tanneries or manufacturers would not have the opportunity to be audited and certified by LWG with a gold, silver or bronze medal because the local environmental situation is not up to standards. established by LWG.

However, if the tannery or manufacturer purchases leather that can be traced, according to the LWG protocol, to a sustainable source at any distance, the tannery can be audited and achieve LWG certification. No emphasis is placed on the carbon footprint of transporting these materials, which can travel 10,000 miles.

Thus, when we talk about the carbon footprint and LCA of leather, we must then include the transport factor and not give large importers an advantage over local producers, where local producers are “punished” for bad environmental practices. of the country, and importers are not burdened by transport factors.

And with that, let’s open the doors to 2022 and see what it has in store for us. Good year!

Sam setter

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