Ecco makes "first solid step" to water-free leather manufacturing

With brands under increasing pressure to boost their sustainability credentials, more and more of them are announcing initiatives in a number of areas with manufacturing and materials being a key one.


With this in mind, one of Scandinavia's best-known shoe and leathergoods companies, Ecco Leather, has just unveiled what it calls game-changing technology after five years of research. 

DriTan tech is being premiered through a special commemorative edition of its classic Soft 8 sneaker at the World Water Congress 2018 in Tokyo this weekend.

The company said it’s the “first solid step towards water-free leather manufacturing” and that's a message that's likely to appeal increasingly to the all-important millennial demographic.

It's important because Ecco said the Leather Working Group estimates that total water consumption worldwide in bovine leather-making is 400 billion litres a year.

Tanning as a process dates back 10,000 years and the process was always thought to be impossible without the use of such large amounts of water. But the new technology “breaks the paradigm and is now set to revolutionise the entire leather industry,” Ecco claims.

It uses the moisture already present in the hides and the result is said to be “indistinguishable from traditionally tanned leather in terms of quality, characteristics, stability and lead-time.” 

Besides saving huge amounts of water, the technology also “considerably minimises the discharge of waste water and the use of chemicals.”


The company said that at its tannery in the Netherlands alone, it will eliminate 600 tons of sludge a year, translating into 40 truckloads of sludge deposited in landfills annually.

And it clearly seems to think that it's an option not only for large-scale operations such as those that it has, but for smaller companies as well.

“This process only involves what you already have at hand," said Thomas Gøgsig, Head of Applied Research at the firm. "You don't have to invest in new equipment. You don't have to look for new exotic chemicals. You just use what is already available at the tannery, only in a different way.” 

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