We’ve been working together with the Sheong Shi Tannery in Kolkata since 2010. Patrick and Veronica, the owners of the tannery, are very passionate about working with us to improve, expand and promote the use of our eco-friendly leathers.
Own primary effluent treatment plant
The tanning process of eco-friendly leather is comprised of a combination of synthetic tanning agents and natural vegetable extracts. In the making of our leathers, Patrick avoids the use of harmful chemicals like chromium, heavy metals, formaldehyde, short-chain chlorinated paraffin, volatile organic compounds, alkyl phenol ethoxylates and so on. The leather is tested regularly by SGS, an independent inspection agency, to check if they adhere to our sustainable standards.
Patrick has built a water reservoir to collect rainwater during the monsoon season. This water is used later in the production. To minimize the energy consumption, the building is made in a U-shape, so daylight can come in everywhere, saving on energy use. It also maximizes the use of the wind as natural ventilation. Patrick and Veronica also developed the layout of the machines in such a way that one motor can give energy to multiple machines at once.
Installed within the tannery is a primary effluent treatment plant. The heavier suspended particles are segregated from the dissolved chemicals in the waste material before it leaves the tannery and is sent to the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) of the district. Here the water is filtered and afterwards the clean water is safe for all purposes.
In the factory protective equipment, such as boots and gloves is mandatory. There are emergency exits in the factory and the placing of the machines is organized so that there is no need to walk around through the factory in case of an emergency. Light and ventilation is adequately taken care of.
In addition, Patrick has also taken responsibility of some of the workers’ children’s education. Just like us, Patrick believes that education is the best tool to eradicate poverty. The goal of the Sheong Shi Tannery is to provide education to at least one child of each worker. Preferably daughters because they have less chances for education and work.
A common question we get at O My Bag is, how it is possible that Patrick can get a hold of cowhides in India, as it’s common knowledge that cows are sacred animals over there. Only few people are familiar with the fact that Islam is the second-largest religion in India. In Kolkata around 33% of the inhabitants are Muslims and they do eat meat. The cowhides are a by-product of the meat-industry. The Sheong Shi tannery sources its hides from locations less than 100 kilometers away to minimize its carbon footprint.
Our second tannery is located in Tuscany, Italy. We started working with them in 2016, when we were in need of a higher quantity of high-quality hides. Luckily, we found the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, a consortium of tanneries with a shared passion for vegetable-tanned leather, high production standards and respect for the environment.
Ponte a Egola, Italy
Use of vegetable tannins
Founded in 1994 by a small group of Tuscan tanners, today there are more than 20 associated tanneries. In the Tuscan leather district vegetable-tanned leather is still produced following the traditional methods: turning raw hides into durable leather takes time and patience, and the skillful combination of technology and experience.
One of the associated tanneries is Conceria Nuova Grenoble. This family-run tannery, with its state-of-the-art articles, was born in 1977 and it is synonymous for respect for tradition and safeguard of the environment.
Just as all the other tanneries of the Consortium, Concercia Nuova Grenoble uses purification and waste management systems that recover, reuse and recycle production substances.
Thanks to the qualities of the natural oils used in the tanning process, the leathers always maintain specific characteristics of beauty, brilliance, softness, and longevity.