Fiction Versus Fact Checked

Check the facts versus the fiction of the myths around the leather industry.

❌ FICTION: Millions of animals are killed for leather each year

✅ FACT CHECKED: Not true, hides and skins are a by-product that comes from animals raised for food. This accounts for 99% of the worlds leather The main sources are – cattle 69% – sheep 13% – goats 11% – pigs 6%

Source: Are animals killed for leather?

❌ FICTION: It’s better to send hides and skins to landfill and replace leather with plastic.

✅ FACT CHECKED: Throwing away hides and skins and making synthetic alternatives would create an estimated additional 5.76m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Source: Leather UK

❌ FICTION: If we stop using leather fewer cows will be killed

✅ FACT CHECKED: Abandoning leather will not stop the production of meat and dairy for the food industry. Today we have no other use for the hides and skins, if we do not turn them into leather they would go to landfill as waste, creating a further problem of greenhouse emissions.

Source: FAQ The Real Connection Between Leather & the Meat Industry

❌ FICTION: The luxury leather goods market is worth $ billions, therefore the $ value of hides is a reason to raise cattle.

✅ FACT CHECKED: In 2021 in the USA, the hide prices varied from $5 – $35 and represented an average of 2% of the overall value of animal over two years. No one raises cattle for the value of the hides.

This confuses the retail price of a high-end branded (for example) handbag with the cost of the components that go into it.

Source: Choose Real Leather

❌ FICTION: It takes 10,000 litres of water to make one leather hide.

✅ FACT CHECKED: Not true. In this estimation 93% is green water (rain), that falls on fields whether there is livestock in them or not. The correct figure is and average of between 600 litres and 1,000 litres depending on where the leather is made.

Source: Leather UK

❌ FICTION: Leather has the highest environmental impact of any material

✅ FACT CHECKED: This claim is usually made using the Material Sustainability Index (MSI) to make comparisons between different materials. The scores however are not like-for-like comparable, and it was not created for this purpose.

Moreover, the current score for leather is so out of date, (as can be seen by the more recent verified scores of individual tanneries) that the industry joined forces to call for a review.

❌ FICTION: Leather is responsible for deforestation

✅ FACT CHECKED: Soya crops, timber, mining and cattle raising are some of the drivers of deforestation that would continue even without leather. The leather industry however is driving initiatives to avoid hides from deforestation being part of its supply chain and the multi-agency programme between LWG, WWF, NWF and GLUE is one example of this commitment.

Source: Leather Working Group and WWF

❌ FICTION: Leather contributes to climate catastrophe

✅ FACT CHECKED: The difference between methane from cattle and CO2 from fossil fuels is much misunderstood, leading to the erroneous claim that leather is bad for the planet.

Methane is part of the natural carbon cycle that after 12 years breaks down into natural CO2 and water. Grass absorbs the CO2 by photosynthesis and the cycle starts again. The CO2 from fossil fuels is new, so remains in the atmosphere for potentially 1,000 years.

Source: Meat & Livestock Australia


❌ FICTION: Leather manufacturing damages the workforce and surrounding communities

✅ FACT CHECKED: Modern leather making is highly regulated with clear environmental, health and safety standards. Moreover, the industry has a strong history of providing good jobs and pulling people out of poverty.

Sources: Modern Leather Making Guide White Paper, The Sustainability of Leather

❌ FICTION: Leather making uses toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and arsenic.

✅ FACT CHECKED: Modern leather making no longer uses these chemicals and the chemicals that are used, are highly regulated during transportation, handling and disposal.

Source: The Sustainability of Leather FAQ

❌ FICTION: Leather tanning uses carcinogenic chrome

✅ FACT CHECKED: Leather tanning uses Chrome III, which is found in nature and is an essential micronutrient for humans. Leather tanning cannot be made with the carcinogenic chrome VI

Source: The Sustainability of Leather FAQ