Introduction to Leather
Leather is a by-product - the main sources of raw material for
the leather industry world-wide are cattle, sheep and goats,
which are reared specifically for the production of meat, wool
and dairy products. Typically, the value of cattle hides, sheep
and goat skins represents in the region of 5-15% of the market
value of an animal.
The leather industry utilises hides and skins which would, if
the industry did not exist to process them, create an enormous
waste disposal problem with the attendant health hazards.
Leather is a renewable natural resource - if leather was
not produced, it would have to be replaced by synthetic materials
derived from non-renewable resources.
Leather is used in a wide range of products from children's
shoes, where it is most important for foot health, to oil
seals in aircraft. Leather makes a contribution to the quality
of everyday life and has done so for centuries. Virtually
everyone wears or uses one or more leather products on a regular
The primary sources of raw material for the tanning industry
are hides and skins from animals that have been accepted as
fit for processing for human consumption at approved slaughterhouses,
where the handling and treatment of cattle fully meets the
appropriate animal welfare and hygiene requirements.
In addition to welfare and hygiene standards, the tanning
industry recognises that the quality of the hides and skins
they receive generally reflects the health, welfare and husbandry
conditions, which have applied during the life of the animal.
The quality, efficiency and profitability of tanners'
operations depend significantly upon the quality and consistency
of the raw materials that they source.