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New Tanning Process Patented

Leather and Shoe Association scientist Samir DasGupta, who says leather produced under the new process is comparable to commercial, chrome-containing lamb skin leather.

Researchers at Palmerston North have patented a new compound for tanning New Zealand lamb pelts that replaces the most commonly used method in the world.

The compound, which is organic based and contains no metal at all, means that pelts can be tanned without chrome salts, first used in tanning in 1856.

The new compound and process – resulting from a research project funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology – will provide significant environmental benefits. The project aimed to develop alternative, eco-friendly, chrome-free tannages for New Zealand lamb pelts.

“Processors in this country are increasingly converting lamb skin into value-added export leather,” Leather and Shoe Research Association director Tony Passman says. “This involves the use of chromium-based tanning compounds.

“However, pressure towards non-chrome leather is mounting. Industry is striving to meet stringent regulations attached to chromium, solid waste disposal and demand for product safety and recycling ability.”

Mr Passman says some European countries are already beginning to restrict the use of chrome-tanned leathers.

Leather and Shoe Association scientist Samir DasGupta says that testing has shown leather produced under the new process is comparable to commercial, chrome-containing lamb skin leather. New processing systems are now being developed.

“An associated goal is the capture of the intellectual property associated with the novel tanning agent,” Dr DasGupta says.


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