• cotance@euroleather.com

PEFCR: an official tool to demonstrate the environmental performance of leather

pef1In the past, there were no simple tools for tanneries to promote the environmental performance of their processes and products. They had to choose from a confusing range of methods and standards in order to certify their products and communicate their green credentials. Sometimes it was necessary to use more than one, depending on where the leather was marketed.
This resulted in costs for companies and confusion both for clients and operators along the supply and value chain.

Luckily, there is good news! In 2013, the European Commission launched the initiative “A Single Market for Green Products”, intended to develop a harmonised set of rules recognised at European level, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).
The leather industry applied and was selected to join the pilot phase of the initiative and to develop sectorial-specific Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR). The aim was to define the criteria to evaluate the environmental impact attributable to the production of leather. When the pilot phase ended in May 2018, COTANCE’s efforts were crowned with the approval and publication of the PEFCR for leather, drafted with its members and many other stakeholders from the leather supply chain.
With the final release of the official PEF compliant datasets in July 2019, the tool is finally ready for use!
pef3The outcome of a PEF study will be a quantification of fifteen environmental impact categories. According to our research work, the most relevant impact categories for the leather industry are:

  • Acidification
  • Climate change
  • Terrestrial eutrophication
  • Particulate matter
  • Use of fossil resources

Upstream livestock breeding contributes a lot to this state of play. A Leather PEF assessment requires an analysis of the whole supply chain, starting from the cradle, i.e. animal breeding. In multi-functional processes like meat production, the impact must be allocated to the various goods generated, based on economic, physical or biophysical criteria. During the Single Market for Green Products initiative, the tanning sector supported a zero allocation for raw hides and skins, as they are by-products, i.e. waste recovered from another production process. The EU Commission, however, determined that any product with an economic value cannot be treated as “waste”, rejecting temporarily the zero-allocation proposal and obliging the industry taking over a portion of the environmental impact of the upstream phases. Although very small in percentage terms, this has significant weight for certain impact categories.pef4
The leather industry at global level calls for zero allocation, and COTANCE will defend this during the next phase of the initiative. In the incoming months, some horizontal topics, including allocation, will be discussed further. The current PEFCR will be rolled out on the market together with new ones that will be developed for other products. After this so called “Transition phase”, the European Commission will implement the PEF in EU policy to enhance the circulation of green products in the market.

With the PEFCR, the European leather industry is moving forward, taking responsibility for being transparent!

For further information about the initiative, visit the website https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/


Brussels, 19 April 2018

logoEFOn 18 April 2018, the Leather Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (Leather PEFCR) were officially approved by the Environmental Footprint Steering Committee. The establishment of the Leather PEFCR represents a major milestone in coming to a harmonised methodology for the calculation of the environmental footprint of leather made from hides and skins of animals slaughtered for the production of meat, which represents 95%+ of all leathers traded worldwide.

COTANCE Secretary General Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano: “We will finally see a robust, credible and transparent LCA methodology come to life to accurately and consistently assess our sector’s ecological footprint. Although there is still some “unfinished business” in the PEF methodology, such as the issue of 0-allocation for hides and skins of slaughter animals, the current rules will allow leather manufacturers to demonstrate their capacity to help reduce environmental impacts linked to their production.”

0-allocation to hides and skins, as a by-product of animals slaughtered for meat production, is though fully acknowledged in the CEN Standard EN 16887 (approved in Nov 2016, published in March 2017, applicable not later than Sept 2017) Leather – Environmental footprint – Product Category Rules (PCR) – Carbon footprints. It sets the Product Category Rules for the Carbon Footprint of leather. The PEF looks, however, not only at the issue of Climate Change but addresses also many more environmental impact categories, providing users with a comprehensive approach for the eco-design of their leathers

The EF pilot phase will culminate in the EU PEF conference on 23-25 April 2018 after which all approved PEFCRs will be published. A transition phase will follow until 2020, where the lessons of this 4-year Environmental Footprint Pilot Phase will be drawn and possible policy options will be considered. COTANCE will remain involved in the further methodological developments as well as in the policy debate, notably through the “Apparel and Footwear Cluster” that it has promoted and that it will be chairing next to other 6 clusters bringing together the various Product Pilots. 

The 2012 UNIDO Report titled Life Cycle Assessment, Carbon Footprint in Leather Processing prepared for and presented by F. Brugnoli during the XVIII Session of UNIDO Leather and Leather Products Industry Panel in Shanghai in 2012, kicked off the work of the leather industry in the area of LCA producing detailed explanations, definitions, methodological approaches and terminology pertaining to leather’s footprint.

COTANCE President Thomas Bee: “Europe’s leather sector can be extremely proud of delivering a comprehensive toolbox after several years of hard work. I would like to thank our Italian colleagues for their leadership role and all member associations and companies that supported the Technical Secretariat of the Leather PEFCR as well as all value chain partners and stakeholders that have supported the process.”

The COTANCE Bologna Council celebrates the success of its application for an EU Pilot on Leather

The COTANCE Council held in Bologna on October 11, 2013, on the sideline of the Lineapelle Fair, is pleased to learn that the sector’s submission for an EU Pilot for Leather had been retained by the European Commission as one of the 14 successful Pilots among a total of some 90 applications.

The leather sector’s representatives from Italy, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Romania expressed their satisfaction for getting the opportunity to drive the process that is to develop the sector’s official Product Category Rules for the Environmental Footprint of Leather.

The start of activities will be delayed, however, so as to allow a parallel development with the EU Pilots of the Food industry whose call for candidatures is to be issued in early 2014.

COTANCE understands that this opportunity is a success for the global leather industry and expresses its gratitude to all those international organisations, foreign leather sector institutions and bodies having sent in their letters of commitment, interest or support to this initiative in the preparation of the application.

Brussels, 14 October 2013