Leather Naturally joins the leather industry in rejecting Swedish carmaker Volvo’s statement that by removing leather from its future electric vehicles cattle production will be reduced.

Release Date: September 28, 2021

The announcement wrongly links the use of leather with meat consumption. Leather Naturally expresses its concern about Volvo’s statement, especially with regard to finding high-quality, sustainable and recycled bio-based alternative to leather.

Hides (leather’s raw material) come from animals that have been raised for food. The world over, farmers do not raise cattle for leather production purposes; instead hides and skins are a by-product of meat and dairy production. If not recycled for leather, hides will become contaminating waste and there is there is a significant potential risk that Volvo’s announcement will lead to more waste. Leather Naturally urges them to reconsider as a matter of urgency.

Leather is a bio-based and biodegradable material that is versatile, long-lasting, and is sustainable in that it up cycles renewable raw materials from the food industry. In a circular society, focusing on zero waste, we have an ethical duty to use every by-product. And what better use for a food by-product, that converting it into a noble and beautiful material?

The tanning industry is environmentally responsible and important to economies across the world where tanning and associated industries, are vital elements in creating livelihoods that have helped and continue to help pull millions of people out of poverty.

If Volvo is serious about specifying sustainable, recycled bio-based materials they should look no further than the original article: “LEATHER”

Furthermore, Volvo has stated that “Livestock is estimated to be responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, with the majority coming from cattle farming”

The above statement is misleading and demonstrates a lack of understanding about the methane cycle. Cows emit methane, a strong greenhouse gas. But this methane is part of a natural carbon cycle, where the methane breaks down into CO2 and water after about 12 years. The grass then absorbs the CO2 through photosynthesis, cows eat the grass, and the cycle continues. Conversely, CO2 from burning fossil fuel stays in the atmosphere for potentially 1,000 years.

Additionally, methane emissions from modern agriculture are falling. In some countries the beef industry has more than halved GHG emissions since 2005. With investment into innovative emissions reduction practices such as regenerative farming and technologies that are becoming common practice, the meat industry aims to be become carbon neutral by 2030 and could be an important key to the climate solution.

For all the above reasons, Leather Naturally urges Volvo to reconsider their positions towards leather, a modern, versatile and noble material that is part of the solution for the dramatic sustainability challenges the world is facing.


Note to editors

Leather Naturally is a not-for-profit industry members association that focuses on education and the promotion of leather. We promote the use of globally manufactured sustainable leather made from hides and skins that are a by-product from the food industry that would, otherwise, be turned into waste.

More information on leather sustainability, production and education, can be found on our website https://www.leathernaturally.org/

Media enquiries: Debbie Burton, Communication Team, [email protected]