The problem with ‘vegan leather’ – is it really more sustainable?

The problem with ‘vegan leather’ – is it really more sustainable?

The Independent looks into the environmental impact of materials marketed as ‘vegan leather’. The term itself is an oxymoron. The term “leather” is strictly defined by ISO standards and has to be a tanned animal skin or hide that is imputrescible. Vegan materials could therefore, by definition, never be leather.

The leather industry has been working hard to address sustainability of materials, chemicals, and water use, and continues to push these technologies to developing nations, to ensure that leather worldwide is sustainably produced. Though the leather industry still has some challenges to overcome, particularly with practices in developing countries, ‘vegan ‘leather’ has some issues of its own. Most of the materials we’ve been told is “leather” are in fact artificial and really made out of polyurethane, polyester or other plastics. These materials pose some serious environmental issues themselves, due to microfiber shredding, production from fossil fuels, and their non-biodegradable nature.

Transparency turns out to be a key issue; where the material is from, and how is was produced. For leather, the answer is often available as various brands opt for best practice leathers from certified tanneries, yet when it comes to vegan alternatives the origins are often unclear. Having an answer available provides consumers with an ability to make well-informed choices.

Read the full article HERE

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