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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


Sustainability metrics and automation to reduce the impacts of the tanning industry through life cycle assessment


Key facts

Sectors covered: Technology innovation in footwear & leather

Innovation priority: Circular economy and resource efficiency

Start: 2020

ELIIT funding: €70 000

The fashion industry is starting to recognise the importance of leather sustainability. The Leather Smart project seeks to address one of the most important topics of the entire leather value chain: production sustainability and minimising environmental impacts.

The Smart Drum technology from SPIN 360 combines data acquisition sensors with data processing software and automation features. These are used in a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based solution that tanneries can operate to

  •  scientifically analyse their processes
  •  formulate hypotheses for improvement
  •  test ideas and validate the results

This creates a process that leads to continuous environmental improvements in tanning production.

What's the goal?

The main strategic objectives of the project are to introduce a scientific approach to process development, based on high-quality LCA and life cycle costing (LCC) data. Product innovation and improved environmental credentials can generate cost savings through reduced resource use. Another objective is clearly communicating the company’s sustainability targets and messages, and engaging with new customers.

The project also aims to validate the technologies developed at the pilot stage in a real-world industrial environment. In addition, it intends to develop a specific business model to be applied in other tanneries worldwide.

On a technical level, the project has validated the algorithms and software functionalities, and further developed the process simulation engine and models. It will also develop a structured process database for future process development, along with a specific tool for real-time LCA assessment and communication.

How has ELIIT helped?

For both partners, this ELIIT project represented the chance to develop a fruitful partnership and collaboration. It impacted  on both parties in a positive way. In particular, Conceria Gaiera carried out research and development activities on a new product line, characterised by improved sustainability and LCA performance, while meeting all the technical and aesthetic requirements of the luxury and fashion sectors. This product line is currently being tested on an industrial scale and is providing a basis for developing new markets.

For the Sustainability Progress Innovation Network (SPIN 360), ELIIT granted the opportunity to further develop its innovative approach to LCA and LCC for leather. This was then applied to one of the best possible use cases worldwide. Furthermore, it allowed for digitalisation within an R&D tanning drum. This brand-new technology named Smart Drum was tested, and market actors showed clear interest.

Meet the partners

Founded in 2009, SPIN 360 offers innovative services that promote sustainable business models and develop and manage skill-development projects, particularly for young people. SPIN 360 has been working for years on a novel approach to the LCA of leather, particularly a a detailed mathematical model of wet batch processes.

Conceria Gaiera, founded in 1946 in Lombardy, is involved in producing  sheepskin, goat and kidskin. The tannery is known for sheep and calfskin of the highest quality, mainly destined for high-end luxury consumption. Conceria Gaiera is investing in more up-to-date technology to improve quality and sustainability.

SME: Conceria Gaiera Giovanni Spa

Country: Italy
Founded: 1946

Technical provider: SPIN 360 Srl

Country: Italy
Founded: 2009