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Leather let down on online PEF tool

A project to supply an online tool for measuring product environmental footprint (PEF), promised to the leather industry by the European Commission, will not go ahead.

The industry’s representative body in the European Union, COTANCE, said a year ago that its work to supply data to a technical partner, contracted by the European Commission to develop the online tool, was complete.

Leather was one of several industries to take part in this exercise, following approval from the European Commission in 2018 of PEF category rules that each sector had presented. The same technical partner, appointed and funded by the Commission, was to develop an online tool for each of these industries.

COTANCE has now learned that this project will not now come to completion. However, it said the work it had done to pave the way for the online tool would not go to waste because it intends to make all the data available, free of charge, “to any operator” seeking to establish the PEF of the leather it produces.

The organisation said that making a PEF study of finished leather is not difficult but requires “a minimum of experience in lifecycle assessment (LCA)”.

It recommended that interested tanners hire an LCA practitioner to carry out this work. After signing a non-disclosure agreement, the LCA practitioner can have access to data about the leather manufacturer’s processes, perhaps working with an in-house technician, and use this information, along with the data COTANCE has to share, to formulate official PEF calculations.

According to COTANCE’s estimates, tanners should be able to engage LCA practitioners for a cost of around €5,000.

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