30 Aug 2023
Muirhead Highlights the Importance of Leather Sourcing Transparency
Muirhead - one of the country’s top companies for supplying leather to the aviation, coach, bus and rail industries - has highlighted the importance of encouraging airlines and transport companies to be transparent about hide procurement, especially when it comes back to tracing the hide’s origins. The company has explained that there is a growing number of leather suppliers who use hides imported from locations such as South America, despite claiming that the hide used is sustainable, ethical and from Europe.
Muirhead, based in Scotland, believes that airlines and operators deserve transparency regarding where their leather hides have come from. It also recommends that suppliers who don’t trace their leather hide procurement back throughout their entire supply chain should be held accountable, on the basis of misleading customers.
Lack of Traceability and Industry Standards
Gareth Scott, hide procurement sales director at Muirhead, states that there is a lack of traceability standards throughout the industry, which creates challenges for operators when it comes to ESG reporting. He said: “Operators are facing mounting pressure to take responsibility for their supply chains and demonstrate the full environmental and social impact of the materials they use. While leather is a natural by-product of the food industry, the finished product can only be considered sustainable if it is produced in a sustainable and ethical way.
He went on to say: “Sadly, some European leather manufacturers import rawhides from cattle reared on deforested lands in South America before marketing their finished products as European leather. These practices are rather concerning, given that extensive cattle ranching is the foremost driver of deforestation in almost every Amazon country.”
The Importance of Suppliers Being Able to Trace Hide
Scott continued by explaining that unless a supplier can trace the hide being used back throughout the entire supply chain, operators won’t be able to determine the origins of the leather being used. Suppliers will also struggle to know how sustainability and ethical the hide is, which could hinder ESG efforts.
There are a variety of things that suppliers can do to trace hide. For example, many companies use a Cattle Tracing System - a government backed system, which works alongside the Cattle Passport - which tracks the hide throughout the leather manufacturing process using a unique number.
Muirhead are encouraging operators to find out whether their chosen leather suppliers can track every aspect of the hide being procured, from beginning to end. Though this will put Muirhead’s own leather sourcing under a microscope, the company is confident in its sustainability and ethics.
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