Italconcia teams up with Hera Ambiente to transform outdated business models by promoting true sustainable development and circular and inclusive economic projects.
Italconcia is a tanning company located in the Santa Croce sull’Arno district, in the region of Tuscany, which specializes in the processing of calfskin. It originated from the dream of Pietro Martini, then a young apprentice, who in 1953 imagined of creating a high quality production into reality, where the latter was the engine that moved everything. Thanks to a far-looking and innovative vision, today the company continues to grow and does so by adopting a new concept of production and change in consumption patterns, to prolong the life of products by promoting the recycling, reuse and recovery of materials and energy by discussing everything related to sustainability in a single article is not easy: either because it is among the most used and abused terms in economics today, or because it is at the center of international economic policy and the subject of investments that attract multiple interests and attention. Andrea Martini, who is the second generation and General Manager of the Tuscan company, begins by telling us about the BeFuture project that they have developed with Hera Ambiente, on what its implications are and how he will continue his research towards an increasingly sustainable future.
BeFuture: How did the project come about?
“Italconcia is one of the historic realities of the Santa Croce tanning district and is a leading player with regards to sustainable transformation, distinguished by an important awareness and sensitivity towards environmental issues. BeFuture originated from this awareness and from the analysis of the needs of the tannery’s customers, the project was realized. Thanks to the partnership with Hera Ambiente, for developing a circular economy process which starts with the collection of cuttings and production waste, and ends with their transformation into secondary raw material, i.e. bio -fertilizer. This project is directly linked to the new BBL BioBasedLeather®, which Italconcia presented last January.”
BBL – BioBasedLeather®, What kind of leather is it?
“BioBased Leather is 97% made of clean leather with zero impact. The tanning process is characterized by the absence of highly dangerous substances defined as CRM (Carcinogenic / Retrotoxic / Mutagenic). This product anticipates the time needed to adapt to the rules set by the European Green Deal, placing our company as a cutting-edge player. We are a small company, but we have worked intensely over the last three years to make the final adjustments, with the help of independent research institutes, this new completely vegetable tanning process. In addition to the bio features based on leather, we have worked hard on saving energy and water in order to make the whole production process truly environmentally friendly.”
What is your goal in the near future?
“Our goal is to transform all of our production into organic leatherbased over time. This is what European legislation requires of us and we are proud to have achieved this goal well in advance. Now our customers are looking carefully at BBL which offers high quality performance and technical characteristics at par with leathers treated with chemical products, we hope that the initial response from the market, which has been positive, will become an increasingly important trend, above all because beyond the product, we believe very much in the BeFuture project which solves many waste disposal problems for brands and their producers”.
What investments are we talking about?
“It was an investment of time for research and development. As I have said, we are a family business, I represent the third generation and to distinguish ourselves, I strongly felt the need to bring innovation and green solutions that would bring about change in the sector.”
Can we finally talk about true sustainability?
“Sustainability, as well as all issues relating to the environment and its protection, is a serious matter that must be tackled with competence and attention. Alongside this new tanning process, our company has undergone a reorganization process that has led us to pass the audit to obtain LWG certification with a silver medal award. To be consistent, we must continue to study and experiment in order to improve all aspects in the production cycle as well as those related to the supply chain.”
Is recycling the only way to “save your skin” in your opinion?
“I take your cue to point out that leather is already recycled in itself. It is a form of waste; in fact it comes from the food chain and if it is not tanned it should be disposed of through waste-to-energy or decomposed in landfills. In both cases CO2 and greenhouse gases are produced. It goes without saying that our BeFuture project is a best practice for us that we would like to become an example for the sector.”
What is still missing in the sector to make a real breakthrough towards eco-sustainable production?
“I think the sector is facing a big change that needs to be “digested” because changes must be made to production systems, costs analysis and often the realities in our geography are small companies that need time to implement these changes. Of course, more attention from the institutions would be desirable to support new developments.”
What is the biggest challenge for you today?
“It is being able to involve our customers by transforming them into project partners, so that BeFuture is not just a wish.”
What do you expect from the future and what will you do to be more ‘green’?
“One thing we have learned along this path is the importance of human resources, their skills and the possibility of continuing training to grow together and make Italconcia an example for our reference market.”