The COTANCE initiative on alignment of Leather Traceability Schemes was launched at the last Lineapelle Fair, back in September 2022. Since then, it has progressed in monthly meetings in which the main leather-relevant certification scheme owners and interested CEN TC 289 Standardisation experts have prepared together with the COTANCE Secretariat the way for defining the minimum essential elements of traceability and evidence of verification to be present in a scheme.
During their last meeting held on-line on the 27th of January ICEC, LWG, SLF, Oekotex and Textile Exchange agreed on the final touches of the Terms of Reference that will govern their convergence endeavours, and during this Lineapelle Fair in Milan started the signature process.
The first to sign were the Leather Working Group, ICEC-The Certification Institute for the leather sector and the Sustainable Leather Foundation. Their representatives joined COTANCE Secretary General on the 21st of February at his Lineapelle Booth for the signature and a picture. Oekotex and Textile Exchange were not in attendance at Lineapelle and their signatures will follow at a next opportunity.
The Terms of Reference foresee the enlargement of the group to relevant Intergovernmental Organisations, such as UNIDO or UNECE, NGOs and Livestock sector organisations. World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation have already expressed their interest in participating.
The next meeting of the “Leather Traceability Cluster”, as the working group has been named, is scheduled for the 16th of March.
COTANCE Secretary General, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, said: “I am very thrilled with this development, because if we succeed to bring this initiative to a successful conclusion, we will provide the industry with leather traceability tools that will exclude typical standards and audit fatigue in tanneries and avoid unproductive costs for the leather value chain.”
Deborah Taylor, PCQI, Managing Director of the Sustainable Leather Foundation, said: “This is a positive initiative that will provide clarity and alignment for all stakeholders in the leather value chain. Traceability provides the foundation for sustainability risk assessment and ESG reporting, so as a cluster of standard setting bodies, if we can agree on the same basic parameters and requirements to demonstrate robust traceability, then we are providing a valuable pathway for our industry. We are looking forward to working together for this goal”.
Ian Scher, Chair of Leather Working Group said: “Collaboration and alignment on the critical issue of traceability is fundamental for the global leather industry to achieve sustainability at scale. Leather Working Group welcomes and supports this positive initiative, as an important step towards achieving a harmonized approach for all the actors in our industry.”
Sabrina Frontini, Director of ICEC, The Certification Institute for the leather sector, said: “I think that we shall do a great work in this pre-competitive space. Thanks to this opportunity finally we shall align and discuss on issues that are essential but currently not completely aligned. All this in the interest of the leather sector.”
Sabrina Frontini, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, Deborah Taylor
Stuart Cranfield, Ian Scher, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano