High performance aviation leather supplier Muirhead is encouraging airlines to ensure the leather they use can be traced back to its origins.
Muirhead says that some leather suppliers, despite marketing their products as sustainable, ethical, and European, have a complex and blurred supply chain, with hides imported from as far as South America. Muirhead relies on the government-backed Cattle Tracing System to ensure 100% traceability. Once a hide is processed, the licensed abattoir issues a commercial document which in turn is given a unique ID number which stays with the hide throughout the leather manufacturing process.
Gareth Scott, Hide Procurement and By-Product Sales Director at Muirhead, 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.
“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 – accounting for an alarming 80% of the current deforestation rate, as per WWF.
“Unless the supplier can trace the hide across the entire supply chain, operators will have no valid insight into the product’s ‘hide miles’, the quality of the original rawhide, and whether their upstream suppliers such as farms and abattoirs uphold the highest ethical and sustainability standards.
“We believe radical traceability is the cornerstone of ethical leather production. That is why we encourage operators to ascertain that their leather suppliers are able to track every aspect of the product’s manufacture and distribution, from cradle to grave.”
Muirhead sources 99% of its hides from trusted farmers in the UK and Ireland, enabling the supplier to leverage the region’s exceptionally high animal welfare standards, keep hide miles to a minimum, and ensure Muirhead leather does not contribute to forest depletion.