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A path opens up for accurate leather carbon footprint calculations

Specialist consultancy Spin360 has worked with tanning drum developer Vallero to create a new smart drum.

Spin360 chief executive, Federico Brugnoli, said the idea had generated high levels of interest at Tanning Tech because early trials suggest that it may provide effective methods for tanners to calculate accurately the cost and carbon footprint of manufacturing leather.

In addition, he said the idea will make it much easier for tanners to identify hidden costs and areas in which consumption of energy, water and chemicals is unnecessarily high and, through this, to make important savings in money and in carbon emissions.

The system works by fitting sensor technology to a Vallero drum and using the sensors to capture all data pertaining to processing hides, taking into account the chemicals in a particular recipe, the water and energy consumed during tanning and the burden on the wastewater treatment plant. The system uses software to model a tannery’s wastewater set-up and also its particular machinery inventory.

It uses this information, plus details of the carbon footprint of the chemicals used in the particular recipe, to make its calculations. Years of work gathering data on products and processes as part of his important contribution to the European Commission’s product environmental footprint project, in which the leather industry has been a participant from the start, has allowed Federico Brugnoli to build up a detailed database.

The level of detail and the accuracy of the numbers appear to point towards the possibility of the leather industry now having access to credible calculations for its carbon footprint, with attractive financial gains thrown in for good measure.

“We filed the patent just before the start of Tanning Tech,” Mr Brugnoli said, “and I am hopeful of being able to launch the idea fully in June.”

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