The Tuscan company INCAS – Iniziative Conciarie Associate presents a new line of leathers that makes eco-compatibility its distinctive character, as well as a strength to be brought to a market that is increasingly attentive to the environmental weight of its production.
“We thought of this new line – declares Valter Ceccatelli, president of INCAS – not only because the market requires it (consumers in Northern Europe now want sustainability also for medium level products), but above all because the planet itself asks for it. And at a time when many fake news flare up around the leather world, we want to communicate with clarity and transparency the level reached by our production reality.”
Hence the choice to focus on hides made with organic tanning and metal free certificates, with the ban on metals in the entire production cycle. A line based on the company’s historical articles, re-proposed in a new ‘version’ which clearly indicates its mission, starting from the name: Leather40075. Five digits that indicate the equatorial circumference of Earth in kilometers, chosen to show a range of products entirely devoted to environmental sustainability and responsibility towards the planet.
HOW Leather40075 WAS BORNE
The new INCAS project is part of a path in favour of sustainability that the Tuscan company has been pursuing for some time, as underlined by Sabrina Frontini, ICEC’s director (Institute of Quality Certification for the Leather Sector with over 25 years of experience and which operates with Accredia accreditation): “INCAS has understood that certifications are important for communicating with brands in an authoritative way and that self-declarations have no equal weight. Thus, since 2000, ICEC has accompanied INCAS in a path of continuous growth and improvement that has been measured and verified every year. The company has dedicated numerous resources to reach the highest levels of sustainability, being the first to obtain in 2014 the ICEC recognition of a sustainable company and placing itself at the top of the Italian tanning companies of excellence. Today it represents a concrete example of how real quality leather can be produced in a sustainable way in combination with the typical Made in Italy style and tradition.”
WHY Leather40075 IS SUSTAINABLE
Studies and results achieved with the process called Hi Co (High Contents), certified by ICEC already in 2007, applied to the processing of calves, baby calves and buffalo for the production of articles intended for footwear, leather goods and garments, are the basis of the process.
It already starts from raw hides. From the traceability control of hides that must come from slaughterhouses that respect animals (always with ICEC, INCAS is also working on a possible but not simple certification even in this area). And from the selection of homogeneous batches that allow to reduce processing waste and therefore the quantity of waste to be sent to landfills.
In the initial wet, soaking and liming phases, occurs one of the distinctive elements of the Leather40075 process, namely the recovery of the sulphide bath used for hair removal (with a 53% saving in water and a 32% in sodium sulphide). Through a system of storage and sedimentation tanks, more than half of the exhausted solution returns to the liming drum with a concentration of amines which ensure hides a full and round effect.
The subsequent tanning phase, on the other hand, takes place through the use of vegetable tannins (from FSC certified woods) or synthetic tannins, whose total content of tanning metals (chromium, aluminum, titanium, zirconium and iron) is well below the provisions of the European standard EN 15987 (320 PPM with respect to the maximum legal threshold of 1000 PPM).
The same manufacturing process ensures, however, also other safety standards, such as a particularly reduced presence of formaldehyde and a content of extractable heavy metals clearly below the terms set forth in laws.
Thanks to the type and quality of the previous steps, less chemical products are used in the retannage for a 8% reduction of the substances sent to effluent treatment plants.
Even in the finishing phase, which gives the article its peculiar characteristics, Leather40075 hides are exclusively processed with metal free products and dyes, with less ‘VOC’ emissions into the atmosphere thanks to the reduction in the use of solvents, and through less general consumption of finishing products equal to 14%.
SUSTAINABILITY BEYOND THE PRODUCT
The effort of INCAS does not exclusively focus on the product. In fact, all the electricity used by the company comes from renewable sources; the internal effluent pretreatment plant allows to intervene directly in case of criticality; vegetable tanned leather scraps are recycled, as well as plastic, paper and wood waste which are subject to traceability control.
And there is also attention to human resources. INCAS has long activated an internal Academy designed for staff training which, in addition to ensuring the active involvement of collaborators in company processes (resources and not tools), also leads to process optimization, given the highly qualified level of employees.
TRADITIONAL SUSTAINABLE TANNING
Ultimately, INCAS not only focuses on organic tanning, but also aims to make traditional chrome tanning increasingly sustainable. Thanks to the use of an ancient technique, the olation process, which provides for the maturation of the tanned hides in a controlled environment for a minimum of 90 days, INCAS is able to improve the quality and yield when cutting the leather, as well as to reduce the use of retanning products by 13% and the emission of chromium in wastewater by 18%.
“To implement this production process that we could define Slow Leather – Ceccatelli specifies – we managed to obtain from the Tuscany Region the approval of varying to the town development plan which, in the coming months, will enable us to expand the company by 5500 square meters, in order that hides can rest stretched out so that the fibers are best filled with chromium. Thanks to the new space, we will also optimize purchases, based on the quality and prices of hides, taking advantage of the greater storage flexibility.”
4 KEY POINTS
Stefano Giannotti, strategic management consultant for INCAS, summarizes the main reasons why Leather40075 is sustainable: “Because it uses a sustainable product by definition like leather. Because it uses ancient tanning, born with mankind, such as the one with plant extracts. Because it uses a manufacturing process that blends tradition, innovation and sustainability. Because it is guaranteed by a Third Party Certification Body”.
DNA of INCAS
Founded in 1972 in the heart of the Santa Croce sull’Arno district, Iniziative Conciarie Associate now counts 22 thousand square metres of plants and almost 200 employees, making it the largest company in the Tuscan leather district, with an average of 1 million and 500 thousand square metres of leather produced each year. A container of ideas, research and development that encloses three different divisions and the same amount of registered brands (Incas, Italtan and Il Veliero), each one with its own peculiarities and “vocations”, able to offer a wide range of products intended for footwear, leather goods and garments. A production company that has always been at the forefront, the first one among Italian tanneries to have obtained the ICEC sustainability certification (Institute of Quality Certification for the Leather Sector) and among tanning companies, also the first one in Italy to have achieved EMAS registration. At the moment the only Italian tannery to boast the “100% Made in Italy” certification which guarantees the execution of the entire production cycle in its factories.