Leather is a Recycled Material


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Leather is perhaps one of the oldest forms of recycling. By recycling a by-product of the food industry, leather manufacturers are able create a diverse range of items. From tactile glove leather to rugged walking boots, soft leather jackets to durable furniture, leather is a natural material that is both versatile and long-lasting.

To learn more about the different properties of leather, see our fact sheet, Why Use Leather.

Leather is a By-Product

Animals are not raised to make leather. The cattle, sheep, goats or pigs that provide the hides and skins raw material for the majority of leather goods we use every day are raised for the food industry. As long as we continue to consume meat and dairy products, there will be hides and skins left over, which as a global community we have a responsibility to recycle into leather rather than send to landfill.

In this way, leather can be said to be both a recycled and sustainable material. For more reading on leather and sustainability, check out our fact sheet, The Sustainability of Leather FAQ.

Uses of Leather

Thanks to the skills of modern manufacturing leather can be made in a wide range of qualities, each with tailored properties that are specific to the product it will end up in. For example the leather that is to be used in a walking boot will be engineered to be firm and supportive, the leather in a ballet-style slipper will be softer and more flexible. Leather for furniture needs to be hard wearing and incorporate special fire-retardant properties, leather for clothing will be supple and light.

The leather-makers of today are chemists and product engineers, their ingenuity and innovation gives us leather for:

  • Shoes
  • Boots
  • Furniture
  • Handbags
  • Jackets
  • Gloves
  • Car seats

Leather Reduces Landfill

Modern leather manufacturing recycles around 270 million cowhides a year, around 7.3 million tonnes, that might otherwise go to waste and landfill sites, posing a huge environmental and biological problem. Modern leather manufacturing is safe, compliant and very regulated. In this way leather can be said to be both a recycled and sustainable material.

Learn more with Leather Naturally

Leather Naturally promotes the use of globally-manufactured sustainable leather. Its website www.leathernaturally.org is a key resource for information about modern leather manufacturing and the part it plays in a more sustainable society.