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Applied DNA Helps Push for Greater Transparency in Leather Sector

Leather sourcing and manufacturing is joining the supply chain movement toward great transparency and sustainability.

Applied DNA Sciences has added two sponsors to its leather traceability project with the BLC Leather Technology Centre.

The Research Project seeks to develop and validate Applied DNA’s SigNature T-based system to provide comprehensive and verifiable leather traceability, from farm to finished products.

Under the leather certification program, Oeko-Tex inspects and certifies leather products, such as all types of clothing, leather shoes and upholstery materials, as well as products that are a mixture of textiles and leather.

The certification ensures that companies and their products follow, and are manufactured in keeping with key statutory regulations, chemicals that are harmful to health and requirements from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act regarding lead.

During certification, leather products are tested for formaldehyde, heavy metals, pesticides, chlorinated phenols, phthalates, processing agents and preservatives, as well as banned colorants and other colorants. Product features, for example color-fastness, are also tested, and an olfactory test is performed.

With the addition of Scottish Leather Group Ltd. and Tong Hong Tannery, the research project now totals seven sponsors, including C&J Clark International and PUMA SE.

This research agreement follows a memorandum of understanding set last year with BLC to set the standard for marked animal pelts and leather, building on Applied DNA’s work with cotton, wool and synthetic textiles.

“The addition of these new sponsors reflects the leather industry’s growing interest in a 100% secure supply chain for its products and an ongoing commitment to taking positive action to deal with environmental sustainability, animal welfare and supply chain risk management that are key issues for industrial participants and their customers,” said Tony Benson, EMEA managing director for Applied DNA.

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Applied DNA is a provider of DNA-based supply chain security, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology solutions, product genotyping and DNA mass production for diagnostics and therapeutics.

[Read more about raw material authentication: Applied DNA Extends Authentication Technology to New Raw Materials]

Scottish Leather Group is one of the largest manufacturers of leather in the U.K. The group is composed of four leather manufacturing subsidiaries and a technology company, all located in the West of Scotland. The privately owned company, formed in 1965, has more than 500 employees. Their specialist leathers are produced for a wide range of industries, including shoes, leather goods, automotive, furniture, marine and aviation. Scottish Leather Group’s export sales represent over 80 percent of volume.

Tong Hong Tannery is one of the largest manufacturers of split leather in the world. Founded in 1990 with manufacturing plants for split leather in Vietnam, South China and Indonesia, the company serves some of the largest footwear brands in the world.

Its sustainability initiatives include producing responsible leather with a recycled water usage rate of nearly 80 percent and a water-based polyurethane-coating system that eliminates solvents.

“We expect additional sponsors may join this existing and pioneering project in the near future,” Victoria Addy, technical director of BLC, said.

The Oeko-Tex Association started issuing the first Leather Standard by Oeko-Tex in March. The first certifications were carried out with sheepskin producers G.L. Bowron and Gerberei Hofbrucker, as well as with the retail chain LIDL.