Leather becomes the material of the future

Leather becomes the material of the future

Leather industry expert Dr. Michael Redwood writes for International Leather maker about the current state of the world and why leather is the material of the future. As a talking point in his article about leather as a future material, he takes the movie ‘Dark Waters’ as talking point.

Dark Waters’ is a movie about perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was used for items such as Telfon and PTFE, which is the base of Goretex. Irresponsible organizations used these chemical substances and carelessly disposed of the waste over a number of decades. Thereby ignoring the recommendations of toxicologists. The movie portrays a twenty-year legal battle demonstrating their awareness of the fact that the waste is extremely dangerous to health, and that they were damaging the health of communities by contaminating the water. PFOA does not breakdown, but builds up in bodies of water, animals and humans creating cancers and birth defects. It sums up a long-running debate, currently relevant again with the emergence of alternative materials to leather, which are petrochemical-based – in other words, plastics.

Dr Mike Redwood argues that plastics suffer from two issues: their use is less durable, while the longevity of the material itself is exceptional. The issue arises from all the additives used in production such as stabilizers, plasticizers and lubricants onto a base material. This base is usually made out of polyester, cotton, nylon or rayon. The additives disturb the original product. When the product disintegrates it will end up in landfill and stay there for over five hundred years. Obviously, plastics are an integral part of our world and we couldn’t do without them in a number of applications. One very important one being healthcare, where it plays a vital role. The issue is not so much plastic itself, but using them to replace natural materials, perfectly suited for the job at hand. When we opt for PU where leather is vastly superior, we cross a threshold we will regret.

The leather industry has had to spend quite a lot of time over the last decade arguing in support of responsible chemistry when it comes to producing leather. More and more sustainable chemistry is used, something to be proud of. “As we watch the horror of a pandemic overwhelming the globe, does it not make all society consider that we need to consume less, consume better products and keep them longer? Most of all, stay closer to nature for more sustainability and demand a level of integrity from all stakeholders in the leather industry, a lot higher than that being shown elsewhere in society. Leather becomes the material of the future.” concludes Dr Mike Redwood.

Read the entire article on leather as future material.