Initiatives being taken for the Indian Leather Industry

CSIR has come out with a “Game changing technology” for enabling the Indian Leather Industry achieve the set target of USD 27 billion by 2020 by making leather processing environmentally sustainable. This “Waterless chrome tanning technology” is a first of its kind technology to reduce chromium pollution load.

The Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences and Vice President CSIR, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, informed the Media while addressing the press in New Delhi today. The Minister highlighted the strategic role of CSIR in the exemplary growth of the Indian Leather Industry.

A tripartite arrangement of industry-academy-research is a first of its kind, which is a role model for other sectors to emulate. The Institute represents the Indian Leather Industry in all its planning and policy development. Technologies for bio-processing of leather, zero waste water discharge, value added materials from leather and indigenous chemicals for processing, are some of the highlighting features of this institute. CSIR-CLRI is a recognised Centre for testing of restricted substances, finished leather certification. CSIR-CLRI in association with other world bodies develops protocols for testing of restricted chemicals.

The Minister said that he was proud to inform that CSIR Researchers today also adorn the position of Chairman of the BIS committees on leather, tanning materials etc. and footwear and also provide inputs to other committees as members. CSIR researchers are also members/chairmen for the relevant committees in International Standards Organization (ISO).

Through the Institute, Indian Leather Industry strives to achieve economic and environmental sustainability, leading to more than doubling of the annual turnover from the present in about 4 years. CSIR has been hand holding the industry since its establishment and has taken the export turnover of Rs.40 crores in 1960s to Rs.40,000 crores in 2015 through technological interventions, training and service. The re-enabling of the tanneries in Tamil Nadu in 1996 stands a strong testimony to the contributions of this organisation.

The Minister further elaborated that Chromium is the most sought after tanning agent with about 2.0 billion sq. ft. of leather being made in India. About 20 thousand tons of chrome tanning agent is discharged in the wastewater. CSIR’s “Waterless tanning technology” has now found PAN INDIA acceptance, with tanners in all clusters enrolling for its adoption. Significance of this technology is that a) it completely eliminates two processes before and after tanning, b) eliminates the use of water in tanning, c) reduces the total dissolved solids in wastewater from this process by 20% and also d) brings down the usage of chromium by 15-20%, resulting in material saving. Efforts are now on to translate this technology both nationally and globally. Several countries including Ethiopia, South Africa, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Vietnam and Brazil have evinced interest in this CSIR technology.

Indian Leather Industry to aid Make in India

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, then highlighted that such technological interventions in the Indian Leather Industry will realise the vision of Make-in-India, in terms of development of first of its kind leather chemicals, environmental friendly leather processing, global fashion forecasting for colours , designs thus leading to increased trade and exports.

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