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Leather facts

ESG in the leather industry

About this essay

This essay highlights prominent examples of corporate social responsibility in action, something we more commonly now refer to as environmental, social and governance (ESG). The original text, published in 2015, used examples from visits to tanneries around the world as part of the Tannery of the Year Awards programme, which was launched by World Leather in 2009 to celebrate examples of good practice in the global leather industry. At that time, there were a number of groups attacking leather and leathermaking, not least so-called animal rights groups, which tried to claim the industry was cruel and polluting. While these voices have quietened somewhat (perhaps as people start to recognise that more plastic is not what the world needs), it is still important to tell these stories. We have updated this article to show recent examples of how tanneries and leather-focused companies have responded to ESG commitments, with a particular focus on how they interact with, and help, their surrounding communities.

Executive summary

There are countless stories of tanneries and leather businesses not only making improvements to their surrounding environments but also contributing to the communities they are based in, while looking after their workers over and above the norm. Over the years, World Leather and have highlighted many of these stories, through our Tannery of the Year visits and reports, in news stories and in features in the magazine. These companies range from the biggest leathergoods and chemicals groups to small, family run tanneries. They prove how hard many businesses work to be good citizens – and how often these stories go unheard by the wider public.

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