At the recent Lineapelle expo, there was a lot of discussion about vegetable tanning, or veg-tan. This is a metal-free tanning method that uses vegetable tannins to treat animal hides—one which has traditionally had a few issues compared to chrome tanning.
What is the big deal about metal-free? Why are tanners and exotic leather industry specialists so interested in veg-tan processes?
The Environmental Impact of Chrome Tanning
The metals used in tanning are heavy chemicals. Without the proper care the water or fumes let off from the tannery during and after the tanning process can do a lot of damage. In the past, and in less well-developed tanning facilities, this has caused harm to local inhabitants and environments.
In modern reality, though, most of the experienced, established tanneries in exotic skins have very sophisticated water treatment plants, ventilation systems and technology in place to mitigate these issues. American and European tanneries (the ones we are familiar with) are strictly regulated by municipal water authorities and other state and federal environmental agencies, and the resulting leather is subject to all kinds of tests imposed by the law and by luxury brands that need to protect their customers.
Why Vegetable Tanning?
Vegetable tanning does not rely on the use of heavy chemicals to treat hides and turn them into durable, long-lasting leather. This helps to limit the environmental and health impact of the process and makesit easier, and thus less expensive, to meet regulatory controls. So, it’s only natural for the process to pique curiosity among tanneries in the more modern (and heavily-regulated) markets—even if that means a high initial investment in new equipment, chemicals, development and training to switch to a new tanning process.
As always, Pan American Leathers remains dedicated to providing the best exotic leather products to its clientele so they can get the appearance, durability, and other characteristics they need. To this end, Pan Am Leathers offers both vegetable and chrome-tanned leathers in a variety of colors, sizes, and grades.