News & Media
ISA TanTec At The 2018 Footwear Production Summit
The 2018 Footwear Production Summit took place in Shenzhen, China last week. The Summit focused on business issues key to footwear production and featured presentations from leading U.S. footwear executives, top factory executives and footwear experts. Carl Flach, Senior Director Operational Strategies ISA TanTec, participated in a panel discussion to address sustainability in practice for footwear materials and manufacturing.
Flach spoke on the issues that the brands need to be aware of when they are choosing the right tannery. People should not forget about the broader definition of sustainability “The main thing is keeping your eyes open when you are visiting the tannery to look at the general housekeeping, how people do their jobs, how clean and organized the facility is and how the layout is. Because it says a lot about the tannery’s environment and management policies and processes” Flach further addressed the importance of having a common protocol set up within the industry, that all of the membership brands use as one tool to measure the environmental performance and thus the degree of environmental sustainability. He mentioned The Leather Working Group as an excellent example. However, the common tool for evaluating the suppliers on social and economic practices is still missing as these aspects also are vital for a sustainable company.
Flach also pointed out wastewater as a risk for the sustainability issue in response to a question raised by an audience. “While the regulations are getting stricter, we need to spend more on cleaning the water to the limits demanded today. There is a limit to when this becomes financial and environmental unsustainable, wasting energy and money to reduce the COD and salt levels in the waste water to levels which are lower than the incoming water. We are investigating into zero waste water discharge systems, which will allow us to recycle the vast majority of the water used in the production, but it is always a very complex balance deciding on the energy consumption versus removing salts and organics”…. “Chemical management is also essential in a sustainable company; by selecting the right amount and types of chemicals you can lower the environmental impact substantially and avoid restricted substances in your product and in your waste chain”