Industry building hard leather
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- This Entrepreneur Is Growing Organic Leather Without the Cows
- Leather production processes
- The need and opportunity for change in the leather sector
- Leather Tanning
- Your diet may be vegan, but what about your furniture?
- 5. SKINS TO LEATHER
- In Upstate New York, Leather’s Long Shadow
- Current challenges facing the industry
This Entrepreneur Is Growing Organic Leather Without the Cows
Nearly four years ago, an industrial building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1, people, highlighting the dangers faced by workers in the textile industry there. What's much less known are the conditions in the leather industry in Bangladesh,where workers are exposed to toxic chemicals, and where the waste has created one of the world's dirtiest manufacturing sites.
Producer Justin Kenny and photojournalist Larry Price traveled to the country's capital, Dhaka, for an inside look. The report was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Setting foot in the Hazaribagh neighborhood is an assault on the senses. The scene is seemingly post-apocalyptic, the stench overwhelming and almost vomit-inducing, a combination of garbage, human waste, rotting animal hides and toxic chemicals.
The source of those hides and chemicals are tanneries like these, hundreds of them packed into two square miles. The facilities are often dark and suffocating. Workers rarely wear protective gear, and it doesn't take long to find children toiling away in dangerous conditions. In earlier December, local media reported that two year-old workers were severely burned at a wallet factory in the neighborhood.
Our team found this year-old boy working in plain sight, despite the fact that Bangladesh prohibits work by anyone under 18 at a tannery.
The children are doing the most dangerous and most hazardous types of work that's possible in the tanneries, just like the adults. The children are in the pits working with chemicals, in essentially vats full of acid. Richard Pearshouse of Human Rights Watch has made regular visits to Hazaribagh and was the lead author of a report on the district.
Each time, I would spend a period of time in Hazaribagh, seven days, 10 days, I would fall sick with some of the illnesses I was witnessing in the people who were living there and working there. It's hard to overstate how polluted Hazaribagh is. It's a residential area, where tens of thousands of people are living, but it's a cluster of about leather tanneries who are operating sometimes 24 hours a day with huge amounts of hazardous chemicals.
The Bangladeshi government has acknowledged that 21, cubic meters of untreated tannery wastewater is dumped every day into the Buriganga River that runs through Dhaka, one of the world's most densely populated cities. We were granted permission to visit inside six tanneries to see firsthand what conditions were like. Unlike workers here in the U. At some locations, they were found inside vats filled with chemicals.
And there was no decontamination process. Many simply washed chemicals off their body with a bucket of water. Alexander Van Geen is a geochemist at Columbia University who has worked on groundwater issues in Bangladesh.
The workers in the tanneries are exposed to levels of chemicals, chromium and others that are not acceptable and are avoidable. Action is certainly needed. That chemical exposure is leading to both short- and long-term medical conditions, according to Dr. Mir Masudur Rhaman, who treats tannery workers. Lung disease, mainly asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, urine bladder cancer, reproductive tract infection, and also other diseases like stomach discomfort or gastroenteritis. What's surprising is that many workers are left in the dark about chemicals that they are exposed to.
This man is in his '50s and says he's worked in the industry for 20 years. But it's not just the workers who are exposed in Hazaribagh. Tens of thousands of residents, including small children who play in the tanneries' dumping grounds, encounter the chemicals in tannery wastewater that is released untreated through spouts straight into neighborhood streams.
That combination of heavy chemically intensive industry in essentially a densely packed residential environment makes for a toxic mix.
How can you tell? Well, oftentimes, you cannot. Heather White, now a documentary film director and producer, spent decades helping major brands source their products in an ethically and environmentally responsible way. She says that the supply chain in Bangladesh and other developing nations is often tainted by abusers of environmental and labor standards.
It's completely mission impossible, for customs inspectors, for consumers, for people who want to know transparently what went on in the production of the end product, because the subcontractors' invoices, shipping documents, they don't travel with the shipment. Brands could completely require it.
But the brands basically have no incentive to do so, because they profit from the fact that a lot of the stuff is hidden and consumers aren't going to know about it. Perhaps even more surprising for American consumers is that the country of origin made-in labels frequently don't reveal the nation or region where source materials or goods come from.
For example, they could primarily sourced from Asia, but if the finishing was done in a factory in Italy, it's going to come into the U.
White and others attribute the economic growth of Bangladesh's leather industry to a lack of enforcement of local laws. Child labor, lack of protective equipment for workers and the dumping of untreated wastewater are all illegal in the country, but industry still operates in the neighborhood.
Many tanneries have yet to abide by a year-old Bangladesh high court order requiring them to relocate to an industrial area on the outskirts of Dhaka with a common wastewater treatment plant. The plant is not complete. And the tanneries have been slow to rebuild operations there. Some tannery owners say they don't want to move because of the cost.
Earlier this month, the high court ruled again on the issue and ordered the government to cut power, gas and water to the tanneries. The order was upheld by the country's Supreme Court days later. But the tanneries are still operating. So, essentially, the government is playing a game where they say, the tanneries are on the verge of moving. We can't enforce our laws until they move. And what that decision not to enforce the laws means is that the health of the workers and the local residents continues to suffer.
It's still unclear whether the government will act and if Hazaribagh will this time finally see change or more pollution. For the record, we asked the Bangladesh Embassy here in Washington repeatedly for comment.
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Leather production processes
Remember Me. London College of Fashion , UAL is a leader in fashion design, media and business education and have been nurturing creative talent for over a century. The Company is supporting the development of leather-working skills, by funding leather master-classes for footwear and accessories students. The British leather industry encompasses all stages of production from production of raw materials to point of sale of finished products to the consumer. The direct supply chain extends across tanners and manufacturers of leather goods, including handbags, luggage, accessories, footwear, garments, upholstery etc.
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The need and opportunity for change in the leather sector
Some efforts have been made to clean the area up environmentally. Sadly the area is still highly contaminated. During that time my father always had a vegetable garden as did several neighbors. My father stopped gardening the year he purchased a rototiller from sears on Fulton st. After mechanically tiling the garden he kept since I was born, he discovered massive amounts of leather under the soil. All of the neighbors that were adult age when I lived on that street have died of cancer. This was Montgomery Street. The area they chose was farmlands, away from the tanneries and chemicals. Well with a dairy farm down the road and miles outside the city who would have thought we would later discover the wells were contaminated by a city landfill miles away.
Sunderland Leather gained attention last week when the U. But the bigger news for some people might have been that there is still a viable full-service leather company in the Glove Cities, where so many tanneries and glove shops went out of business in the late 20th century. Sunderland has multiple ties to the past through the family that runs it, the building it operates from and the business it perseveres with. Crucially, the Smrtics also own and operate Colonial Tanning, the last working tannery in Gloversville. This gives Sunderland flexibility and agility in marketing its leather, and provides a stream of income from contract tanning for other leather companies.
Since the dawn of history, humans have made great use of leather. Turning animal skin into a durable product requires processing, and in primitive times, hides were tanned using animal brains, dung, urine, ash, and smoke. As our understanding of chemistry evolved, these materials were replaced by vegetable, mineral, and then nonorganic ingredients.
Your diet may be vegan, but what about your furniture?
The available supply of raw material is becoming too small to satisfy the strong development of the international market. A pilot experiment performed in showed that vaccination against ringworm will triple the output of first-choice calf skins. Vaccination against ringworm also provides the animals with better living conditions by reducing the levels of stress they suffer in connection with itching. Norway introduced compulsory vaccination in and has virtually eradicated ringworm from its country.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Building The Leather Industry In Uganda - VLOG 81
Consumers always touch leather first. Is it soft, warm, natural? Consumers want soft garment leather , as well as car or furniture leather. Leather in most cases should be as soft and natural as possible. The tanner achieves this through various processes.
5. SKINS TO LEATHER
The leather manufacturing process is divided into three sub-processes: preparatory stages, tanning and crusting. All true leathers will undergo these sub-processes. A further sub-process, surface coating may be added into the sequence. The list of operations that leathers undergo vary with the type of leather. The leather making process is in general restricted to batch processing, but if the surface coating sub-process is added then some continuous processing can be included.
Mining is not an important sector of the Italian economy. Minerals are widely dispersed, and, unlike other industries, mining and quarrying traditionally have been more prevalent in the south than in the north. In the early 21st century, increased demand for construction materials and fertilizers led to the expansion of northern-based quarrying industries specializing in lime and chalk for the production of fertilizers and cement, an important industry , along with coloured granites and marbles.
In Upstate New York, Leather’s Long Shadow
One of the defendants in the Woburn case was a leather tanning site. The town had a long history and pollution legacy from leather tanning at the site. In the mid 's Woburn Massachusetts became famous for its leather tanning. By , 26 large tanneries employed people.
Current challenges facing the industry
Ask someone about leather and usually leather will be related to luxury and durability. The leather sector has provided us with a long-lasting beautiful material. At the same time, the leather sector faces significant environmental and social challenges.
Imperial Russia and other areas of Eastern Europe did not become fully industrialized until the end of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, even in its earliest stages, Jews played prominent roles in industry. During the first half of the nineteenth century, industrialization in the Russian Empire which at that time included much of Poland had begun at a sluggish rate. After the Crimean War , however, production was financed by private wealth, under tight governmental supervision.
The first of four articles on the manufacturing of leather provides a general background to those who buy or sell leather for products. Background information on the manufacture of leather and its various properties and attributes will enhance product knowledge where it can make a difference — for example, in making a sale, understanding a problem or the limitations of the material. Leather has been produced for thousands of years, ever since man discovered that animal skins in contact with other materials, extracted by water from bark, wood or leaves, preserved the skins from decay. The earliest known tanneries date back over 5, years according to evidence found during excavations in the Egyptian settlement of Ghebelen. Today leather is made in an estimated 9, tanneries worldwide. The annual area of leather produced is 19, million square feet, an average of around 2 million square feet per tannery.
But how does the tradition of fine leather work fit into the modern market? The tradition of leatherworking appears to date back to the Stone Age, with Palaeolithic cave paintings depicting people wearing leather clothing and shoes and even building shelters out of animal hide. It was then adopted by the Greeks and the Romans, making leather one of the most significant and treasured materials to survive through the ages.