Sustainability
at Elmo Leather

Since the late 80’s we have been driving the tanning industry towards water based coatings and pioneering discharge water purification in our state of the art biological Water Treatment Plant. In early 2021, we launched our industry-leading ‘Zero Waste Leather’ concept with zero process waste and no landfill, enabling a circular economy which generate many benefits including facilitating local farmers with high efficient fertilizers produced from our by-products.

Now you can journey into a sustainable future with our next generation lightweight leathers whilst enjoying superior comfort and improved fuel efficiency. We commit to make a difference, Elmo’s holistic roadmap to climate neutrality for product is 2040 and for organization by 2050. Take the green route with Elmo and support the customer chain to reduce the CO2 footprint. Imagination by you sustainability by Elmo.

Animal welfare and social responsibility


Images by: Björn Ceder

The raw-material

The raw-material (hide) is a by-product that is refined to a beautiful and durable end-product instead of being sent to landfill or used for energy. This way we prolong the lifecycle of the by-product and create a sustainable value proposition. None of the hides we use as raw-material, comes from bovine animals being bred for the hides, all hides are by-products from the meat and dairy industry. By being certified according to ICEC TS733, a certification program based on ISO 17033:2020: Verification of Ethical Claims, Elmo assures that our raw material is a by-product from the food industry generating full circularity through upcycling.

 

Elmo provide traceability back to farm

Predominantly we use raw-material from the Nordic countries, facilitating strict regulations on animal welfare and traceability back to farm as well as a premium quality end-product. Elmo provide traceability back to farm and we have implemented our own Traceability Management System to facilitate traceability of raw material through the supply chain. The system is certified according to ICEC TS PC 412: Certification of Raw Material Traceability. As of 2023, we are rated ‘Excellent’ up to the place(s) of breeding.

 

Animal welfare 6 freedoms

Methods and procedures must be adopted in compliance with national and international standards regarding animal wellbeing, such as those issued by the World Organization for Animal Health. The supplier must ascertain, guarantee and certify the origin of the raw materials or processed or semi-processed materials from companies other than those involved in the deforestation of the Amazon biome and South American forests. Elmo requires that all of our raw-material suppliers guarantee a minimum of 6 animal welfare freedoms which are included in our Supplier Code of Conduct here.

 

Social responsibility

Elmo is certified according to ‘ICEC Social Responsibility’, assuring social accountability, environmental respect and workers’ rights internally and for suppliers upstream in the supply chain.


Circular economy and 'Zero Waste Leather'


ECO – Elmo Circular Operating model sets a new benchmark for circular economy within the tanning industry

The tradition of leather, refining a material made by nature is one of the oldest circular economies in the world, creating a sustainable value proposition based on upcycling. At Elmo, we apply a 100% circular manufacturing methodology meaning all our process waste is upcycled, recycled and reused as raw-material for other industries or as energy. Launched in early 2021, Elmo’s industry leading ECO-model facilitates zero process waste, which means that none of our waste ends up in landfill creating an industry unique ‘Zero Waste Leather’ value proposition. Leather also enables a prolonged product and application lifetime compared to alternative materials. Our distinguished ‘Zero Waste Leather’ is a high-performing, beautiful and fully biodegradable end-product, that reduces the CO2 footprint due to its extended product life expectancy and our unique ECO-model.

‘Zero Waste Leather’ concept and ECO — Elmo Circular Operating model conclusion summary

Benchmark in water purification


Elmo’s waste water becomes drinking water

Our goal goes beyond producing the best leather in the world, we also aim to generate the cleanest waste water in the world. We use water from nearby river Ätran, after forming an integrated part in our tanning process, the water passes through our innovative, state of the art treatment plant before being discharged back into the river. Purified almost to perfection with several parameters pushing 100%, it empowers Elmo the position as the obvious industry benchmark. Downstream, a regional cleaning facility further filters the water, supplying cities on the Swedish West Coast with clean drinking water.

 

Running our own innovated biological waste water treatment facility

Established in 2005, our biological waste water treatment plant is optimized to manage waste water from our tanning process, enabling waste water purification at an industry benchmark level. The plant and its innovated technology received honourable citation by the EU LIFE-Environment programme “the new waste water treatment technology also gives better results than the current best available techniques (BATs) for the tannery sector”.

 

Elmo Supports Wateraid

In order to extend our pursuit of good quality water resources for everyone regardless of geographic location, Elmo supports WaterAid and the quest to facilitate safe water for everyone, everywhere.

 

Clean water tanning technology

Clean water tanning technology enables us to borrow water instead of consuming it. We borrow 16.5mof water per ton of rawhides which is less than half compared to conventional tanneries. Elmo’s process enable us to clean the water more efficiently, we return the water back to the river in the same condition.


Excelling in air emission reduction


100% CO2 neutral on energy

By using 100% renewable electricity and biofuel-based steam for our heating energy, Elmo have become fully CO2 neutral on energy. Being true to circular methodology, we have implemented a circular heating energy approach, by selling the hot condensate generated by the biofuel-based steam back to the heating supplier. This circular set-up enables the biofuel plant to reduce its energy usage when producing new steam which is beneficial both from a monetary and sustainability perspective. Elmo being completely renewable on energy is good for the planet and good for our customers, and it facilitates a reduction in CO2 emissions estimated at 4,400 tons per year which equals more than 2,250 passengers flying from New York to Paris.

 

Industry benchmark

Elmo facilitates VOC at 3.5 gr/produced sqm for 2022 vs the EU directive at 85 gr/produced sqm, and EU tanning industry average of 32.6 gr/produced sqm in 2018. Elmo is at the very forefront and an industry benchmark, of air emission reduction within the tanning industry.

 

Elmo drove the industry by switching from solvent based coatings to water based coatings in the late 1980’s

Waste of resources has a negative impact on both the environment and our competitiveness. Therefore Elmo strive for solutions as close as possible to the root cause and few things embodies this practice better than when we drove the industry switch from solvent based finish coatings to water based finish coatings. By discarding alternative methods like purification or combustion in favor of a more complex and sustainable solution focusing on the root cause, Elmo managed to excel in air emission reduction and generate a cost effective long term solution.

Facilitating sustainable solutions for our customers


Value proposition of lightweight products enabling a reduction of your CO2 footprint

Our lightweight leather concept delivers a weight reduction of up to a quarter compared to conventional automotive and transport leathers. Now you can journey into a sustainable future with our next generation lightweight leathers whilst enjoying superior comfort and improved fuel efficiency. Take the green route with Elmo and support the customer chain to reduce the COfootprint.

 

20+ years of facilitating free of chrome options

Regardless of end-product and process, Elmo always incorporate a sustainable perspective during development and production. Around 80% of our production at Elmo is free of chrome. For the chrome tanned process, we apply chromium extraction before the water goes to our innovated biological waste water treatment process, pushing the purification levels close to 100%.

 

Long life material compared to other surface materials

Leather is a highly durable material that ages gracefully and develops a patina compared with other surface materials. Leather has a longer life cycle and expectancy which therefore benefits the cost structure in the supply chain.

View Elmo’s ISO 14001 certificate
The certificate ISO 14001, is the international standard for an effective environmental management system (EMS).

 

Download sustainability summary report

Download CO2 emissions report