Environmental priorities, economic prosperity and social justice are being pursued simultaneously. However, we recognise that sustainability is not a destination, but a continuous journey of learning and improvement. This report highlights the actions being taken by my colleagues in different functions of our business that support our sustainability credentials.
We are fortunate that the product we make, leather, is an inherently sustainable material. Leather is produced from the hides and skins of livestock reared for meat, dairy products and wool. Cattle, from which we obtain hides, are not reared to produce leather. Thus, the manufacture of leather is the most efficient, elegant and viable solution to a potentially huge waste problem for the meat industry.
Although our raw material is a by-product, we continue to use our influence to promote and encourage the highest standards of animal welfare practices. Leather manufacture was the first recycling industry and it remains as relevant and important today as it ever has been. Our responsibility is to produce this most beautiful, long lasting and versatile product in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and do not damage the environment. We also have a responsibility for the safety, security and wellbeing of our employees, contractors and the communities that surround our three manufacturing sites. This ethos will be maintained and implemented also in new production facilities, as our global footprint expands in the years ahead.
The importance of livestock in providing societies with food, income, employment and nutrition has long been widely recognised. The livestock sector is stated as making a significant contribution to climate change emissions but there is mounting evidence that shows previous estimates of greenhouse gases attributed to livestock have been considerably overestimated. The sustainable manufacturing of leather depends on a clear understanding of the true impact of livestock farming and we welcome the fact that policy makers and the scientific community are already working to quantify and act to reduce this impact. This is particularly apparent in the Scottish supply chain.
I am delighted to report that earlier this year the group received the VIBES Scottish Environmental Business Award for 2018 in the Management (Large) category. This award recognises businesses with over 250 employees whose management systems deliver continuous improvement in environmental performance. VIBES is a strategic partnership between the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the Energy Saving Trust, Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Water and Scottish Enterprise, all of which are key stakeholders in our business. Subsequently, a motion of congratulations to Scottish Leather Group was presented in the Scottish Parliament, which is a very public recognition of our achievements. These awards aim to encourage the efficient use of resources, enhance the competitiveness of business, improve environmental performance and support the wider goals of sustainable development, including social benefits through community and staff involvement.
In the meantime, there is ongoing research and development into potential alternative uses for collagen protein, waste heat recovery systems and other technical leather innovations, the progress of which will feature in subsequent years’ Sustainability Reports. Innovation and continuous improvement in every aspect of our business will sustain our business for the longer term and keep us at the forefront of responsible leather manufacturing worldwide.
Jonathan Muirhead OBE,
Chairman, Scottish Leather Group