Leather chemicals and coatings company Stahl has opened a new Center of Excellence in India to support the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies and processing methods.
The new facility is part of a five-year public-private partnership between Stahl, sustainable supply chain campaigner Solidaridad, non-profit PUM Netherlands, and local stakeholders to reduce pollution, increase water efficiency and improve working conditions in the Kanpur-Unnao Leather Cluster, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Launched in 2017, the project is also aimed at cleaning up the nearby Ganges river which provides water to about 40% of India’s population.
“Our experts will work side-by-side with tanners and other local partners to share knowledge and showcase the latest sustainability-driven solutions and technologies, with a particular focus on reducing water pollution in the nearby tanning clusters,” Michael Costello, director of sustainability of Stahl, says. “The Center of Excellence is located in Kanpur in order to ensure the successful implementation of the public-private partnership goals, and to ensure that the initiatives remain in place after the project period expires.”
Gert van der Bijl, international programme manager livestock and leather at Solidaridad, adds the facility “creates the possibility to demonstrate new technologies, and train tannery staff to apply more sustainable practices. And thus work together on a cleaner Ganges.”
Pre-launch, customers and partners were invited to participate in a workshop about innovative technologies for responsible leather. Central to the workshop were the recently introduced pickle-free tanning and waterproofing technologies.
“The key benefits of the pickle-free technology are that it reduces the effluent load and eliminates the use of salt, acid and the basification process, depending on the type of substrate. This way we can reduce water consumption by about 40% and work towards a more efficient tanning process,” explains Prasanna Maduri, Stahl campus manager for India. “The pickle-free process will lead to a reduction in effluent load on the Ganges river basin.”