• cotance@euroleather.com

COTANCE takes stock of one year of activities in its alignment initiative of leather traceability certification schemes holding a Networking Drink on the first day of the Lineapelle Fair

It was at the 2022 September edition of Lineapelle, a few months before the EU was adopting the so called “EU Deforestation Regulation” (EUDR), that COTANCE, the body representing European tanners, launched its call to leather certification bodies to come together for aligning their incipient traceability schemes for facilitating mutual and official recognition.

COTANCE’s call on prominent certification bodies active in traceability was favourably echoed by ICEC, LWG, SLF, OEKO-TEX®, as well as Textile Exchange who agreed to hammering out common minimum essential elements of traceability and evidence of verification to be present in a scheme by engaging in monthly encounters under a COTANCE lead.

The success of the initiative grew rapidly triggering the interest of CEN Standardisation experts from UNIC (Italy), FILK (Germany) and AQC (Switzerland), NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), as well as IGOs such as UNECE and UNIDO. 

The group expanded further with leather sector organisations such as CICB/CSCB (Brazil), LHCA (US) and AQC (Switzerland).

All undersigned or are in the process of signing the Terms of Reference that guide the activities of this “alliance” that ended up with the name of LEATHER TRACEABILITY CLUSTER (LTC).

Networking traceability event 190923

Today, COTANCE celebrates the first anniversary of this successful initiative, taking stock of its progress and looking into the tasks that are ahead. This Networking event marks a significant milestone, with Lineapelle playing a welcome role as a sponsor and supporter of the COTANCE initiative.

After a first phase where the LTC expanded its membership to reach critical mass, members have been advancing by setting up Sub-Groups. There are currently 2 active Sub-Groups, one on “Certification” and a second one on “Standardisation”. A third Sub-Group is in the making addressing “Transparency & Data Privacy Issues”. A forth Sub-Group focussing on “Deforestation” should also soon be set up for translating the specific requirements set by the EUDR into CEN-Standard specifications.

Although good progress has been achieved in the alignment of terms and processes, as well as in the preparation of the New Work Item (NWI) to be submitted to CEN TC 289 “Leather”, which is currently chaired by the COTANCE Secretary General, the task ahead for leather traceability certification schemes is still paramount and time is running short. Indeed, the EUDR, which obliges any cattle hide, skin or leather to be sold on the EU market to be free from Deforestation, i.e. not having been obtained from animals raised and/or kept on land deforested after 31st December 2020, will be applied in 2025. Cattle, whose hides/skins will arrive on the market in 2025, are being born these days and will need to be fully traceable.

Participants of the Networking event were busy exchanging on the LLTC results and the challenges ahead.

COTANCE's Secretary General, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, expressed his excitement about the collaboration, saying, "COTANCE is proud to be at the origin of this important initiative that aims to increase the efficiency of certification bodies in developing leather traceability and bring considerable savings for all the links in the leather value chain, as it enables convergence and mutual recognition. The spirit of cooperation demonstrated by all members of the Leather Traceability Cluster (LTC) is remarkable and a vivid example of how collaboration and competition can and must co-exist when it comes to overcome common challenges."

"LINEAPELLE is pleased to support the positive impact of the LTC in the leather industry, and this Networking event exemplifies our dedication to supporting initiatives that embody the value of industry collaboration," stated Fulvia Bacchi, CEO di Lineapelle. "Lineapelle is the meeting place of the leather industry; we are happy that COTANCE takes advantage of Lineapelle for organising important sector activities and we encourage others to do so as well."

COTANCE President, Manel Rios (INPELSA, Spain) underscores: "Traceability of leather back to the animal is a tremendous challenge for our industry, as the hides and skins that tanners transform into leather are not made on purpose. We have tried for decades to obtain information on the origin of our raw materials with little to no results. Now that compulsory legislation demands it, we need practical solutions and tools for our SMEs by 2025. Time is running!"