The Leather Manifesto has launched ahead of COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference), to highlight the benefits and climate-efficient characteristics of natural materials.
The Leather Manifesto, which was written by the UK’s leather trade association Leather UK and 30 other leather industry organisations, explains that natural fibres are part of the biogenic carbon cycle and are comprised of carbon that has been in the atmosphere for a millennia.
The Leather Manifesto explains: “These readily available raw materials, when ethically and properly produced, are an important replacement for fossil fuels, reducing the need for its extraction and retaining more carbon in the earth.”
The manifesto adds: “Furthermore, at the end of life, properly produced natural materials will biodegrade, limiting their impact and mitigating harmful emissions, such as microplastic pollution, often associated with synthetic materials.”
The Leather Manifesto also points out that that natural materials, such as leather, are often dismissed through a lack of understanding of the manufacturing process and its supply chain, or through the application of questionable science generally in the form of incomplete and incomparable or outdated Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).
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Director of Leather UK Dr Kerry Senior says: “We believe that this is an important statement on the positive impact that leather and other natural fibres can have in meeting the challenges of climate change. Leather upcycles a renewable waste from the food industry into a long-lasting, repairable material, ideal for the buy less and keep longer model that we all need to adopt”.
What is the leather manifesto asking COP26 to do?
The 31 organisations who have contributed to the leather manifesto, including Leather UK, Leather Naturally and the Sustainable Leather Foundation are asking the world leaders who will be attending the COP26 summit from this Sunday (31 October) to:
- Recognise the cyclical, climate efficient nature of natural fibres and their potential for a positive contribution to reducing the climate impacts of consumer products.
- Encourage the use of natural fibres wherever feasible and reduce unnecessary reliance on fossil-fuel-based materials.
- Support LCA methodologies that accurately account for the environmental impact of fossil-fuel based materials, including end of life properties.
- Promote ‘slow fashion’, durable products, and items that can be used many times, repaired and refurbished, and last for years.