Leather industry must seek zero carbon footprint

Chennai : The Indian leather industry must seek net-zero carbon footprint to meet the environmental norms, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and PMO Dr Jitendra Singh said. Addressing the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) here, he the carbon footprint of leather processing activity needs to approach zero levels and the bio-economy of animal skin-derived products is the new mantra of the time.

He said the carrying capacity requirements of the leather sector in locations like Tamil Nadu demand the implementation of Zero Liquid Discharge as the enforced environmental norm, which is under discussion. Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pitch for new innovations and next generation technologies, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the sustainability of the leather sector is likely to emerge as the new challenge for CSIR-CLRI in its journey from the platinum to the centenary.

The new vision for leather research and industry during the next 25 years may need to be on sustainability, net-zero carbon footprint, gaining total recyclability of leather-based materials, bio-economy of animal skin-derived products and ensuring income parity for workers, besides brand building”, he added. Stating that efforts are on to prepare customised footwear for Indians by using 3D technology to scan the feet of the person to prepare their footwear, he said 73 districts in the country are included to implement the project in the first phase.

Dr Jitendra Singh said the leather footwear needs to be designed and developed into foot care solutions with foot hygiene and wearer comfort as the Unique Selling Properties. There are as many as half a million cells in the palm of feet that enable the sweating process and leather enjoys an unmatched potential for transpiration”, he said, adding, diabetic footwear is one such product that ensures a better quality of life due to the reduction in the abnormal distribution of plantar foot pressure.

The Minister said Collagen-based innovative biomaterials for applications in human health care are new opportunities and they could well become co-products of leather, if next-generation leather-making technologies avoid contaminating skin-based matrix materials with lime, sulfide, and many other sensitive chemicals. There is a possibility for CLRI to emerge as the game-changer in the knowledge domain and to make the leather sector matter even more for the new India of the future”, he said.

Dr Jitendra Singh said the Indian leather sector in 1947 provided livelihood opportunities for about 50,000 people only. But today, it is widely known that the leather sector supports the livelihood of more than 45 lakh people in the country. He also expressed satisfaction that in 2021, export realization from the leather sector is valued at Rs 40,000 crores.

The Minister also lauded the admirable role of the CLRI in helping the tannery sector in Tamil Nadu to restore operations when the Supreme Court ordered the closure of about 400 tanneries in 1996 through the innovative deployment of “Do Ecology” solutions in all the 764 functional tanneries within nine months.