• cotance@euroleather.com

Main insights into the Green Deal Leather project

On May 16, in Brussels, the European Tanning and Leather social partners, COTANCE and industriAll Europe held the Green Deal Leather Final Conference, concluding the two-year, EU-funded Social Dialogue.

First Photo

The event attracted around 100 on-site attendees and marked the end of the successful social dialogue initiative between the European social partners as well as national representatives from Spain (ACEXPIEL), Portugal (APIC), France (FFTM), Hungary (MKZS), Italy (UNIC), Germany (VDL), and Austria (FVTBSL).

The Green Deal Leather project has, for the first time, provided comprehensive data on workplace safety within EU tanneries, detailed in the "Injuries/Incidents at the Workplace" study released in Lineapelle/Milan on 19 September 2023. Additionally, the project unveiled findings on the carbon footprint of leather in the "Carbon Footprint of European Bovine Leather" study, presented at the Final Conference in Brussels on 16 May. Both studies highlighted the industry’s environmental and social credentials, providing tanneries with guidance to enhance their sustainability.


The main insights on occupational health and safety include:

  • Tannery-related accidents in EU countries surveyed (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria) declined by 16%, from 1,317 in 2019 to 1,102 in 2021. 

  • However, with an incidence rate of 3.2% in 2021, 15% on the way to/from work, and over 90% of recorded accidents being qualified as of "minor" severity, there is still room for improvement.

Safety Study
JudithJudith Kirton-Darling, General Secretary of industriAll European Trade Union said at the Green Deal Leather Final Conference:

"Good occupational health and safety practices in the workplace, with ongoing training and checks, are essential to keep tannery workers safe. Social dialogue is key, and trade unions and workers' representatives must be able to highlight any issues to management and know that they will be acted on swiftly. These preliminary results are a baseline and now we must work together to achieve zero accidents."

European Tanneries: Safety Matters! Check the video


The main insights into the environmental impact include:

  • Calculating leather's carbon footprint is a complex exercise that requires a thorough understanding of the tanning industry, its processes and products. 

  • The result obtained with the ECO2L method indicates an average of 8kg of CO2 per m2 of bovine leather in EU tannery processes. 

  • This figure can vary based on specific characteristics of the leather, such as thickness and performance requirements. Therefore, since each batch of leather is made to order, customers have the opportunity to influence the eco-design of their leather products.

  • Excluding the impact of livestock breeding reveals the actual footprint of leather tanning and the importance of chemicals used during the tanning process, but also that replacing one chemical with another that has a lower carbon footprint does not always result in overall improvement.

Carbon Study

Manuel Rios


Mr Manuel Rios, President of COTANCE:

"Through the Green Deal Leather project, COTANCE continues to equip European tanners with the tools and intelligence needed to progress towards a more sustainable future. We believe that transparency is key to advancing our social and environmental credentials and dispelling common misconceptions about leather. We are proud to undertake this journey hand in hand with our social partners.



European Tanneries: Environment Matters!  Check the video 



The Final Conference of the GDL project showcased the work and achievements of the social partners, who, in these last two years, have gathered and produced data that will greatly benefit the tanning and leather sector globally. By working together in social dialogue, the European leather industry produces tools and intelligence which contribute to worker safety, protect the environment, and promote sustainable, high-quality leather, supporting millions of jobs worldwide.
So, next time you're deciding between leather and another material, remember that choosing European leather not only offers a high-quality experience that you can enjoy for a long time but also delivers a product crafted with the utmost care for both employees and the environment.


Project details: Reference: 101051445 Coordinator: COTANCE Cocoordinator: industriAll European trade union


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This project has received funding from the European Union. Sole responsability lies within the author and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.