Product carbon footprints of leather
This interesting article, published by the International Leather Maker magazine takes a look at the often neglected non food-outputs of the livestock system, focusing in particular on leather.
The article is written by FCRN member Charlie Clarke and is based on the research he undertook for his Msc. In the article, he questions the soundness of current recommendations for calculating the carbon-footprint of leather. These recommendations, set forth in a 2012 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) report, say that leather is a waste product of the beef and dairy industries rather than a by-product or co-product, meaning that tanners do not have to include the carbon-footprint of the process up until the cow is slaughtered. The article examines the methods used to arrive at this recommendation and concludes that the methodology is unsound and underestimates the actual impact of leather. He argues that using such a flawed approach could undermine confidence in the tanning industry.
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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.
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