Introducing the Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT)

Introducing the Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT)

The mission of the Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT) is the enhancement of “leadership, science, and inclusive multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration” in the leather industry. Today, the Round Table is pursuing the goal of a continuous improvement of the leather value chain in order to promote environmental and social responsibility, economic viability, and animal welfare.

Back in 2017, global non-profit Textile Exchange started focusing on the impact of the leather value chain and the absence of a common framework shared by all the players. They pulled together over 350 stakeholders from all the stages of leather production (including NGOs and special interest groups), and the result was the Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT), a platform meant for sharing information and cooperating towards the promotion of best practices.

The best practices themselves are established through the Responsible Leather Assessment (RLA), a tool developed by a special working group set up for the purpose – the International Working Group (RLA IWG).

At present, the Round Table is focusing on three major goals: make more and more stakeholders from the industry engage with each other in order to tackle common issues together; become a recognised partner for interacting with other organizations and government bodies; and identify the priority issues on which the players should concentrate their joint effort.

RLRT’s sector membership encompasses all kinds of stakeholders: brands and retailers, farmers and suppliers, manufacturers, and civil institutions. As far as traceability is concerned, the Round Table recognised the Chain of Custody and the Book-and-Claim system to be key factors in the production of responsible leather.

Through its strong connection to the beef industry, leather is under the spotlight because of the growing public awareness in relation to the current debate on climate change and global warming. Since Europe’s animal farming sector has already exceeded safe bounds for greenhouse gas emissions, the continent’s cattle farming should be halved by 2050. For this reason, Textile Exchange has founded the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a new body featuring initiatives all around the world.

The story of leather and the fate of meat take different directions from the slaughterhouse onwards, so it is not surprising that the respective Round Tables are expected to work back to back.

One of the major goals of the Responsible Leather Round Table is achieving full supply chain traceability, from the birthing farm to the shelf, and this is a purpose we could never be indifferent to.

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