The research study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the global leather tanning machinery market for 2016-2020. The report also lists light leather and heavy leather as the two major segments, of which the light leather segment accounted for over 96% of the market share in the global leather tanning machinery market.
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Technavio heavy industry analysts highlight the following three factors that are contributing to the growth of the global leather tanning machinery market:
- Development of slaughter-free leather
- Anaerobic digesters to produce biogas from tannery wastes
- UNIDO Leather Panel's grading of hides and skins: Blueprint for market
Development of slaughter-free leather
Growing globalization and changing lifestyles have increased the demand for animal-based products significantly. In 2015, it was observed that more than 60 billion land animals were required to meet the demand for leather and meat of 6 billion people. This huge requirement takes its toll on the environment in terms of land and water for rearing of these animals along with adding to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Therefore, research is being conducted on developing lab-cultured leather, which does not require the slaughtering of animals. In this leather growing method, cells sourced from specially bred animals are grown in the lab in sheets, which are then developed into layers and later fused with the help of tanning agents. This is then finished and used for designing leather products. This technique also dispenses with messy processes like hair and fat removal. Lab-grown leather can be made with minimal wastes, thus resulting in dramatic savings. Moreover, lab-grown leather is more durable, and can be made into different thicknesses. Another benefit of lab-grown leather is that it uses 99% less land, with significant savings on water, energy use, and GHG emissions. It also eliminates the need for traceability and welfare monitoring.
“The success of the lab-grown leather can lead to a revolution wherein one of the most commonly used materials can be synthesized without harming the ecosystem. This technology will boost the demand for leather products since leather processing would no longer require the killing of animals,” says Gaurav Mohindru, a lead analyst at Technavio for engineering tools research.
Anaerobic digesters to produce biogas from tannery wastes
Conventional leather tanning techniques are highly polluting as they produce large amounts of organic and chemical pollutants. Wastes generated during leather processing pose a serious challenge to the environment. Estimates show that the leather industry generates more than 600,000 tons of solid wastes per year globally, and approximately 40%–50% of the hides are lost to shavings and trimmings.
Anaerobic digestion of tannery wastes is an attractive method that can be used to recover energy from tannery wastes. The method involves the degradation of a large part of the organic matter that is contained in the sludge and tannery solid wastes. This can result in the generation of biogas, and provide time to set-up more sustainable treatment and disposal routes. The digested solid waste is biologically stabilized and can be reused in agriculture.
Biogas can be used as a substitute for natural gas and utilized for electricity and heat generation. A combined heat and power plant system commonly known as CHP can generate power together with heat for in-house requirements. This combined production of heat and electricity is very beneficial as it reduces non-renewable energy demand and therefore, reduces the carbon dioxide emissions.
The increased use of anaerobic digestion reduces the adverse impacts of leather tanning process on the environment and will, thus, boost the demand for leather. This will, in turn, propel the demand for leather tanning machinery.
UNIDO Leather Panel's grading of hides and skins: Blueprint for market
Hides and skins are considered as the end-product and in some cases, the by-product of animal husbandry. In emerging markets, hides and skins are either not processed properly, thus reducing their potential value or are discarded as a result of misinformation or cultural beliefs that consider them unclean. Hence, the paper, ‘Regional Africa Hides and Skins, Leather and Leather Products Improvement Scheme’, drafted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1991 has been re-introduced in 2015 and applies to tanners and the leather industry for implementation in their processes. Although this paper is directed at Africa, leather experts consider this to be applicable worldwide setting standards and guidelines for grading of hides and skins by quality. The paper also highlights the techniques of various leather production processes like trimming according to ISO and BS standards.
“The grading system and standardized techniques will help in making the hides and skins market more organized and will ensure better quality skins and hides. This in turn, will result in better quality end products, thus driving the growth of the market,” says Gaurav.
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