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Stahl and partners launch new Ethiopia tanning initiative

Leather chemicals manufacturer Stahl has worked with campaign groups Solidaridad and CSR Netherlands to launch a new initiative to promote environmentally friendly leather manufacturing and sustainable employment in the Ethiopian leather industry.

The three partners launched the new ‘Green Tanning Initiative’ at the All African Leather Fair in Addis Ababa on June 11. It is a three-year programme, funded by the European Union.

“Ethiopia is renowned for its large livestock population and its fine leather, especially from the famed hair sheep,” said the managing director of Solidaridad Europe, Heske Verburg, at the time of the announcement. “At the same time, few European companies have established direct business relations with Ethiopia. We believe there is ample opportunity to build those relations and to have Ethiopia play a more significant role as a supplier of leather and leathergoods to the European market.”

The organisations behind the Green Tanning Initiative went on to say they see a need for “certain improvements” in the Ethiopian leather industry as well. The programme will aim to encourage stronger ties between abattoirs, tanneries and finished product factories in Ethiopia, leading, they hope, to a better selection system for hides, tanning methods that use as little chrome, salt, water and energy as possible, improved waste management and better working conditions across the whole leather supply chain.
Actions planned under the programme include training and coaching of staff at selected Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories, trade missions and matchmaking with European buyers. The initiative is already working with five European companies that have expressed interest in doing business with Ethiopian leather manufacturers; three of these companies are already sourcing leather and leathergoods in the African country.

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