LIFE Project Cover Photo

Environmentally friendly oxazolidine-tanned leather

Reference: LIFE08 ENV/E/000140 | Acronym: OXATAN

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Chrome tannage is the most commonly used technology for the production of tanned leathers, used in the case of more than 90% of leathers tanned worldwide. The process of chrome tannage uses trivalent chromium, a substance that under specific conditions could oxidise to hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium, however, is harmful to the environment (pollution of aquatic environments, soil infertility, etc.). For this reason, new chrome-free tanning techniques are essential, thus avoiding the problem at the point of origin.

The main environmental impacts from tanneries come from solid waste and wastewater. At a European tannery, one tonne of leather produces around 50 m3 of wastewater and 700 kg of different solid waste, both polluted with chromium. An extremely high percentage, around 90%, of all leather is produced using chromium, and consequently the 90% of the leather goods are made of leather tanned with chromium.

Previous studies carried out by INESCOP demonstrated that using an oxazolidine tanning agent combined with other (vegetable or synthetic agents) can result in quality leathers that can be used by footwear and upholstery industries. The aim of the LIFE project was to demonstrate, promote and disseminate in the EU this innovative tanning technique (and related processes) as an alternative to traditional chrome tannage. Tanned leathers are mostly used for the manufacture of footwear articles (56%), upholstery (13%) and clothing (11%).


OBJECTIVES

The main objective of the OXATAN project was to demonstrate, promote and disseminate across the EU the innovative oxazolidine (chrome-free) tanning technology, as well as the tanning procedures associated with the use of this new technology. Specific project objectives included:

  • Promoting the use of environmentally friendly leathers in the footwear and upholstery industries;
  • Improving the environmental impact of the tanning, footwear and upholstery industries;
  • Reducing the environmental impact of leathers at the end of their useful life; and
  • Helping the footwear and upholstery sectors to meet compulsory and voluntary environmental requirements, as regards the content of substances that are harmful to the health and the environment.

  • RESULTS

    The OXATAN project demonstrated the technical-financial feasibility of chrome-free leather tannage using oxazolidine. Tanneries in Spain and Italy tested the production of leather using the oxazolidine tanning technique on an industrial scale. The results were widely distributed among tanneries throughout the EU ? including Italy and Spain, which together are home to nearly 90% of the total number of EU tanneries ? as well as in the European footwear and upholstery industries.

    Introducing the new technology will improve the environmental performance of the tanning, footwear and upholstery sectors. It will also lower the environmental impact of leathers at the end of their useful life. The oxazolidine process also helps companies fulfil compulsory and voluntary environmental requirements applicable to footwear and upholstery regarding chrome-free substances that may be harmful to human health and the environment.

    In this way, the project has contributed to the achievement of the objectives of the ?Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy?, which focuses on the environmental effect of products during their life-cycle. European tanneries tanning using oxazolidine will provide leathers free from heavy metals. These leathers could be used by footwear and upholstery industries for the manufacture of products, thus improving their environmental impact at the end of their useful life. Oxazolidine technology will also have a positive effect on the environmental design of products (i.e. eco-design). By using oxazolidine-tanned leathers, manufacturers are opting for a more environmentally friendly raw material.

    The project?s technological innovation also contributes towards the implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive, which promotes measures that reduce pollution at the point of origin. Chrome-free tanning, such as the oxazolidine tanning technique, is moreover a Best Available Technique. Finally, the project supports the implementation of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), which promotes environmental technologies.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

    The OXATAN project demonstrated the technical-financial feasibility of chrome-free leather tannage using oxazolidine. Tanneries in Spain and Italy tested the production of leather using the oxazolidine tanning technique on an industrial scale. The results were widely distributed among tanneries throughout the EU ? including Italy and Spain, which together are home to nearly 90% of the total number of EU tanneries ? as well as in the European footwear and upholstery industries.

    Introducing the new technology will improve the environmental performance of the tanning, footwear and upholstery sectors. It will also lower the environmental impact of leathers at the end of their useful life. The oxazolidine process also helps companies fulfil compulsory and voluntary environmental requirements applicable to footwear and upholstery regarding chrome-free substances that may be harmful to human health and the environment.

    In this way, the project has contributed to the achievement of the objectives of the ?Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy?, which focuses on the environmental effect of products during their life-cycle. European tanneries tanning using oxazolidine will provide leathers free from heavy metals. These leathers could be used by footwear and upholstery industries for the manufacture of products, thus improving their environmental impact at the end of their useful life. Oxazolidine technology will also have a positive effect on the environmental design of products (i.e. eco-design). By using oxazolidine-tanned leathers, manufacturers are opting for a more environmentally friendly raw material.

    The project?s technological innovation also contributes towards the implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive, which promotes measures that reduce pollution at the point of origin. Chrome-free tanning, such as the oxazolidine tanning technique, is moreover a Best Available Technique. Finally, the project supports the implementation of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), which promotes environmental technologies.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE08 ENV/E/000140
    Acronym: OXATAN
    Start Date: 01/01/2010
    End Date: 30/06/2012
    Total Budget: 690,431 €
    EU Contribution: 345,215 €
    Project Location:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Asociación de Investigación para la Industria del Calzado (INESCOP)
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Polígono Industrial Campo Alto, 03600, Elda, España
    Contact Person: Joaquín FERRER PALACIOS
    Email: jferrer@inescop.es
    Tel: +34 96 5395213
    Website:


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Cleaner technologies
    • Eco-products design
    • Leather and Footwear

    KEYWORDS

    • environmentally friendly product
    • heavy metal
    • leather industry
    • hazardous substance
    • alternative technology

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Asociación de Investigación para la Industria del Calzado (INESCOP) Coordinator
    CGS di Coluccia Michele & C. s.a.s, Italy Participant
    FCVRE (Fundación Comunidad Valenciana–Región Europea) Participant

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