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The tanning process implies the transformation of an organic raw material prone to natural decay into another that keeps the main natural features of the hide but one that is stable in time. To achieve this several mechanic and chemical processes are used.

Due to the global nature of the leather market and tha a big percentage of our production is for export, the technical and environmental requirementes that have to be met are the same used by most leather producers worldwide. Sometimes in order to enter a market o become a certified supplier is needed to comply with several different environmental norms & standards at times even stricter than the ones directed by law.

On the other hand the leather industry always follows the parameters and processes recommended by the most important leather technical institutes worldwide, like the ones in Germany and the UK. Those institutes have been promoting for decades the better use of resources and continually make new developements to assure that the environmental impact of leather production is the minimum possible.

In our particular case, we can mention that since the beginning of the construction of the new production facility in the 70´s, the environmental issue was a priority, and as such the waste treatment plant became a model to follow at the time by other local producers (you can find photos and comments on CICA website and other sites as well), and the production processes are constantly changing to minimize waste and water consumption.

As part of the fulfillment of norms and ruling laws, the company makes and present to the national, provincial and local authorities for aproval different reports on its operation and specific parameters that have to be continualy monitored. Among this, the most important are the Annual Environmental Impact Report, the freatic waters analysis at the different test wells that are located around the facility, the continuous analysis of waste waters, and complex air quality reports.


Chromium and leather tanning

Chromium comes from the mineral chromite, the leather industry only consumes 1,3% of all the chromite produced worldwide, being the metal industry the one tha consumes most part of it (79%) as part of metal alloys as in silverplating and galvanoplasty.

It´s important to notice that the chromium ion can be found with different valency or oxidation number, wich determines its chemical properties. In leather tanning Cr(III) is used, also named trivalent chromium. More specifically as basic chromium sufphate. This chemical element is NOT considered as a dangerous, carcinogenic or teratogenic substance according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Identification of Dangerous Waste 40 CFR 261.4 (b)6), 1999. Basel Treaty, ratified by national Law Nº 23.922 does not include Trivalent Chromium in the dangerous substances list either, as neither does the National Law of Dangerous Waste Nº 24.051.

Trivalent Chromium has the most common valency of this metal, and is the one found in foods like red meat, beer yeast, bananas, spinach, wheat and is a fundamental nutrient for the body as it participates in the fat, carbs and insuline metabolism.

Having said all this, when talking about Chromium is to be mentioned the valency of the mineral, that is Trivalent Chromium (or Cr(III)), as another type of chromium -Cr(VI) or hexavalent chromium- does not share none of the previously mentioned characteristics, begining for its condition as dangerous substance, and besides that in relation with the leather process is totally discarded, simply because it is useless for tanning.

It´s important to inform that the company has a chromium recovery plant, and thus all liquid wastes containing Cr are processed and recycled. In this way the chromium is reused and it never leaves the production cycle.

 Additional Info: - Argentine Leather Association - Leather Chemist & Technicians Assoc. (ARG) - Intl. Union of Leather Chemists and Technicians