Leather manufacturing is classified as water-, energy- and waste-intensive by the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU). Tannery effluents, if not properly treated, cause significant damage to soil and water bodies. Over 85% of world leather production involves the traditional chrome tanning process (TCTP). The use of chrome (Cr) in the industrial processing of animal hides poses serious environmental and health problems due to the use of hazardous chemicals, the production of solid/liquid waste and air emissions, and the formation of hexavalent chromium in finished articles.
In Italy alone, the tanning industry uses 47 million tonnes of chemical products per year (2011 figures). Nearly 31% of products contain substances classified as hazardous, according to the CLP Regulation ((EC) No 1272/2008)). Around 125 million m2/year of leather in Italy are TCTP tanned, consuming approximately 145 million m3/year of water. Moreover, at present, effluents are sent to wastewater treatment plants where chrome separation is carried out, at €28/tonne for chrome treatment and €12/tonne for chrome-containing organic leather scraps treatment.
The main aim of the LIFE GOAST project is to demonstrate the benefits of a new tanning technology on a semi-industrial scale. The technical feasibility of the technology, as well as its social and economic impact, will be monitored and compared with the TCTP in order to demonstrate the reduced environmental impacts of the new process, while producing comparable or better quality leather.
In particular, the project will:
Through the complete replacement of chromium salts with less hazardous substances, the project will contribute to the implementation of the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU) and the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008. It will also reduce water consumption and pollution in line with the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) .