MO.3.A || Sustainable Chemicals and Materials

Schenten, Julian; Kaluziak, Eleni

How can the leather sector move towards a more sustainable chemistry? The Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences organised a “scenario process” in which representatives from the leather supply chains – i.a. chemical industry, tanneries, automotive and consumer products (shoes, fashion) – together in a series of workshops developed a vision for the leather industry in 2035 (“scenario story”): Knowledge and transparency on chemicals used in processes and products, as well as on their negative impacts, will increase. Accordingly, regulations worldwide, customers and NGOs will likely put pressure on industry to green their processes. The scenario story also anticipates e.g. increased control of the chemical processes along the supply chains enabled by traceability schemes. Traceability here means the capacities of supply chain actors, facilitated by IT tools, to trace back chemical substances present in the materials provided by their respective suppliers. In late 2020, the project launched a multi-stakeholder (sub)project, which focusses on the business-to-business supply chain until placing the final product on the market. The ambition of the project is to initiate, i.e. create impetus for, an international sector wide dialogue to define common rules for the application of a traceability system; taking into account interlinkages with other initiatives and interoperability with existing approaches. To this end, another aim of the project is to have an early pilot test of such a system to understand it’s feasibility and challenges. In fact, a first pilot study with a German shoe company started in February 2021, using an existing IT tool and demanding full material declaration (FMD) from the supplier. This contribution to the conference aims to present the process steps taken so far in the project and to discuss first findings on benefits and obstacles when applying the traceability tool in a leather product context.