Portugal Legislates for Leather

Country puts protection from misleading terminology in place

Portugal has joined other nations including Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Brazil in setting out the rules for the use of the word leather. A new decree establishes the strict requirements for use of the term leather, protecting the industry  and consumers from misleading descriptions such  as ‘vegan leather’ and ‘synthetic leather’.

Nuno Carvalho, President of the Portuguese tanning industry association APIC, said: “With this law, our Government acknowledges the strategic importance of leather and leather products for the Portuguese economy and the need for protecting it from deceptive commercial practices.”

The decree is available on the APIC, (Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Curtumes) website here.

Or download the English translation here.

Why is this important?

Many materials imply that they have the same natural origin and wear qualities as leather by including the term “leather”in the name when they do not.

The term ‘vegan leather’ is confusing, with materials that are very often derived from fossil fuels appearing to consumers to be more sustainable than leather.

Plant-based alternatives, while being welcome as part of an overall movement towards more sustainable materials, can send equally mixed messages as they appear completely natural, but many rely on combining with synthetics for strength and structure.

For consumers wishing to make a conscious purchasing decision that allows them to balance environmental impact, a desire to use less plastic and the sustainability benefits of a product that wears well and lasts a long time, it is crucial that they can be confident in the description on the product label.

Want to know more? Leather Naturally has produced a simple guide to help explain the increasing confusion around this topic but it is hoped that more countries will follow the example of Portugal in both protecting leather and ensuring that consumers are clear about what the are buying.