Welcome to the green side of leather!

We are glad to show you SERTAN WT a product designed to produce ecological tanned leather

ECO-Tanning 

Quimser continues working to achieve highly biodegradable leathers. We have all heard that there is a demand for “eco-leather”, “metal-free” and “chrome-free” leathers, but what is really being sought? What is the real destination of this leather?

Also, we have another competitor: “vegan leather”, made with synthetic materials (plastic and PVC) which is gaining market share due to the fact that it is not of animal origin. It must be made quite clear that natural leather is a waste that is recycled to give new life. With regard to leather of animal origin, we observe that a transformation is being sought in order to carry out processes that are more respectful with the environment and for the health of living beings.

Taking into account that the industry is asking us for different products with different names, we have decided to make this report to define concepts, products and processes, in order to achieve biodegradable leathers.

Chrome Free

Are those that can be worked with aluminium, synthetics, aldehydes and other products that may be more or less ecological, without taking into account the biodegradability of the leather obtained or if the process causes less ecological concern. Only chromium is removed, since it is a contaminating and toxic material. Many of these products are petroleum products, with a high pollutant load.

Metal Free

Include the elimination of all metals (chromium, aluminium, zirconium…) which does not mean that these products and processes are eco-friendly or that the resulting leather is biodegradable.

Ecological

Are those that have been worked with eco-friendly products and through processes to obtain leathers with high biodegradability and with very little or null impact on the environment. In these cases, the waste resulting does not create any problem, Leather is a waste that is recycled to give new life.

Take a look at this study that comapres normal leather with vegan leather:

Comparison of the Technical Performance of Leather, Artificial Leather, and Trendy Alternatives

Chemical
Origin
% in tanning
Price
TS (ºC)
Colour in tanned leather
Light fastness
Negative points
Toxicity
Biodegradation time
Compostability
Waterwaste problem
ZDHC-MRSL restrictions
SERTAN WT
Zeolite
Mine
6-10%
75-80
Whitish
Yes
No
No
Short
Excellent
No
No
VEGAN LEATHER
Chrome III
Mine
5-10%
100
Bluish
Yes
Can produce Chrome IV
Yes
Extremely long
Very bad
High
Yes
WET WHITE
Phenol
Napthaline
Aldehyde
Disulphone
Triazine
Petrol chemistry
5-30%
€€€
85
Whitish
Light
Phenol derivates and bisphenols. Wastewater toxic chem.
Yes
Medium
Very bad
Medium high
Yes
VEGETAL EXTRACTS
Mimosa
Quebracho
Chestnut
Tara
Others
Mimosa from tree bark. Quebracho from tree. Chestnut from grinder seeds.Tara from grinder seed.
8-40%
€€
75-80
Brownish
No
Few producers in the world. Mimosa bark need 6-12 years to renew. Quebracho tree need 60-80 years to grow
No
Long
Excellent
High BOD
No
WET GREEN
Olive extract
Olive seeds tree
8-40%
€€€
75-80
Greenish
No
This tecnology is not aviable for all world. There are few quantity in the market.
Yes
Long
Excellent
High BOD
No
ALUMINIUM
Aluminium salts
Mine
3-8%
80-85
White to whitish
Yes
No
No
Medium
Regular
Medium high
No
MINERAL
Zirconium
Titanium
Mine
8-15%
€€€
80
White
Yes
Products are restricted, banded and toxic.
Yes
Long
Long
Very high
Yes
VEGAN LEATHERS
Acrylic
PU
PVC
Polymer-Resin
Other
Petrol and other
NA
NA
NA
PVC resins and other toxic chemicals. Microplastic.
Yes
Very Long
Very bad
Very high
NA

SERTAN WT

Quimser’s laboratory (R+D+I) cares about finding alternatives and solutions to help the future of the sector through actions such as:

  Eliminating the use of chromium

  Water saving

  Wastewater with low environmental impact

  Reducing process time (electricity consumption)

  Obtaining leathers highly biodegradable

  Using environmentally friendly chemical

We have developed SERTAN WT: a raw material that is more respectful of the environment with wastewater that does not generate problems. The aim is to respond to the aforementioned points and provide solutions for a world that is increasingly demanding about the impact that processes and products generate on the environtment.

With SERTAN WT we obtain white leathers, with very low or non-existent oxidation, shrinkage temperature: 80-85. We have realized that the resulting leather is highly biodegradable. This zeolite-based. Despite the fact that the Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (0-MRSL ZDHC V 2.0 2019) does not prohibit the use.

At Quimser we defend this product as an alternative to ecological leathers, since it is a component that is not restricted and has multiple uses in other sectors that consider it an eco-friendly substance: food, agriculture, cosmetics, etc

Chemical composition Organic, and inorganic salts

Appearance Solid powder

Colour Ivory

pH 4,0±0,5

Charge Cationic

General properties

SERTAN WT is a chemical free of phenol, naphthalene, sulfone, aldehyde and formaldehyde. In the retanning combinated with vegetable tannins, the leather obtained has extra softness with increased fullness without altering its caracter of vegetable leather.

SERTAN WT gives excellent filling effect in the loose parts of the hide. It can minimize the usage of polymers and resins. It also eliminates the usage of glutaraldehyde based tanning agents. It is compatible with other anionic synthetic, natural tanning and retanning agents. Leather tanned with SERTAN WT has outstanding dyeing ability with brilliant dyeing effect and good uniformity. It is also really good as a bleaching agent in the retanning process.

Animal skin is a natural product that the leather industry transforms into stable material for the manufacturers of clothing, upholstery, footwear, among other goods. Once tanned and retanned, the leather becomes more resistant to environmental degradation depending on the products used.

What means biodegradable?

The adjective biodegradable qualifies those substances that can be degraded by the action of a biological agent, such as certain animals, fungi, and bacteria that can achieve the decomposition of these types of materials.

 

When is a product biodegradable?

We refer to a product or material is biodegradable when it can be descomposed naturally and ecologically in a relatively short time, non-contaminating the environment and becoming a friendly compost product for the earth.

 

Biodegradability tests

Biodegradability test of sheepskin

We have taken different skin samples in order to find out how long it takes for them to decompose, comparing each article and checking the differences of biodegradation to compost.

STEP 1

We sampled 4 tanned and retanned sheepskins with different processes and products to compare their level of biodegradability.
1. Tanned with Chrome. Retanned with syntans.
2. Tanned with vegetable extracts and aldehyde. Retanned with syntans.
3. Tanned with SERTAN WT. The skin was dried without retanning.
4. Tanned with SERTAN WT. Retanned with vegetable extracts.

STEP 2

We introduced the rolls of leather inside the gardening compound in
July-8th, 2020. We left the buckets closed in ambient temperature
conditions and constant indoor humidity for about 50 days.

STEP 3

We checked the leather rolls and monitored their evolution in August-25th, 2020. The leather tanned with SERTAN WT (num 4), after being kept for 50 days in optimal composting conditions of humidity and temperature, did not show any skin residue or evidence of it, which indicates that the skin sample had been 100% decomposed.

CONCLUSIONS

Samples number 3 and 4, show a high degradation in gardening compost.
According to the products used in number 3 and 4:

· Tanning and retanning chemicals have no wastewater impact compared withe the products used in samples 1 and 2.
· The product’s toxicity in leather is also very low.
· Biodegradation is as expected.
· Degraded products do not have an impact on the earth. They are compostable and no-toxic. The total environmental impact of skins tanned with SERTAN WT is much lower than the total environmental impact with leathers tanned with Chromium, Mineral salts or petrol derivates (syntans, aldehydes, resins).

We conclude that leathers have been decomposed highly satisfactory and the environmental impact on tannery process, leather, compostability and ecotoxicity makes the SERTAN WT the best choice.

 

Biodegradability of cowhide

STEP 1

We sampled 5 bovine crust leathers, which had been tanned by different processes:

1. Tanned with chrome and retanned with standard market products.
2. Tanned and retanned with vegetable extracts and natural polymers.
3. Tanned with SERTAN AL and retanned with standard market products.
4. Tanned with SERTAN WT and retanned with standard market products
5. Tanned with SERTAN WT and retanned with vegetable with extracts and natural polymers

STEP 2

We buried the samples in compost substrate on September 2, 2020 and unearthed them on October 5, 2020.

STEP 3

We buried the samples in compost substrate on September 2, 2020 and unearthed them on October 5, 2020.

CONCLUSIONS

The sample no. 5 (EA-R-19170) has been retanned with natural polymers to have the minimum impact on the environment, both in terms of the resulting leather and the products used throughout the process

Biodegradability of sheepskin leather

STEP 1

We cut 35 pieces of sheepskin leather tanned with SERTAN WT and retanned with our standard eco-friendly process.

STEP 2

We made rolls with the sheepskin cuttings and we introduced them inside a gardening compound at constant indoor humidity and temperature.

STEP 3

We took out 3 samples per week. We kept and dried them in the same
order as they were picked. We started the test on 14 October 2020
and we finished it on 8 January 2021. The test lasted for a total of 80 days

CONCLUSIONS

Every passing day with the sheepskin leather into the compost,
it biodegraded increasingly. Our tanning and retanning processes achieve excellent biodegradability and compostability since the sheepskins leather can disappear in 60-80 days.

 

Certifications

DETERMINATION OF RELATIVE BIODEGRADABILITY PERCENT OF LEATHER USING AEROBIC MICROORGANISMS

Test carried out according to UNE-EN ISO 20136 Leather – Determination of the degradability by microorganisms (ISO 20136: 2020)

Download the full analysis

Accumulative average carbon dioxide evolution over time until plateau displayed graphically as lag-phase and slope (rate):

Collagen C+
Tanning with SERTAN WT
EA-R-20144 - Eco Lady Bags
EA-R-20143 - Eco Shoes
EA-R-20099 - Vegetal article
Tanning Wet Blue
Oxazolidine Tanning
% Absolute Biodegradation
78,9
71,8
35,5
58,7
8,1
0,4
53,5
% Relative Biodegradability*
100
91,0
45,0
74,4
10,3
0,5
67,8

* For the calculation of % relative biodegradability, the % absolute biodegradation of collagen obtained in the test is taken as 100%. The % relative biodegradation of each sample is calculated based on the value corresponding to 100% relative biodegradability of collagen.

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