IULTCS CONGRESS 2019, Innovation, research, tanning chemistry. Sustainability is a top priority

“The International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) gathered in Dresden for theXXXV Congress, whose title was “A Future through Science and Sustainability”

Organized and hosted by VGCT – Verein für Gerberei, Chemie und Technik (the German Leather Technicians and Chemists Association), the Congress was held in Dresden from June 25th to 28th, 2019, and it brought together experts and professionals proceeding from 35 countries, giving them the opportunity to share insights and experiences concerning the Green Revolution of production systems, while paying close attention to the market, to its needs and concerns. The opening speech was given by Thomas Yu, IULTCS’ President in office: “As all of you know, the leather industry and the leather chemical industry are under great pressure from environmental issues, different society perspectives and attacks because of misleading information. IULTCS is a very important organization that can provide scientific-based, reliable information and proactively promote innovative technology by holding International Congresses.”
Dietrich Tegtmeyer, Congress’ President and former IULTCS President, raised the audience awareness concerning the planet safeguard and waste recovery in order to promote a circular economy policy. After that, speakers took the stage and dealt with pivotal industry issues such as increasingly eco-friendly technologies, close-cycle processes, tanning waste management, micro-waves to speed up the tanning cycle, the development of brand-new, “bio-based” tanning agents, the role of bacteria and fungi, while taking into account climate change’s effects. Furthermore, several lectures focused on automation, leather production digitalization and on the latest innovations in terms of machinery and equipment. www.iultcs2019.org.


iultcs 2019

Dietrich Tegtmeyer, Congress’ President and former IULTCS President (on the left), Thomas Yu, IULTCS President in office

Originally organized in London in 1897, the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) is a global-scale organization, founded for the purpose of encouraging technology, chemistry and science of leather on a worldwide basis. According to the IULTCS statutes, the aims of the Union are to foster cooperation between member societies, to hold congresses, to enhance the advancement of leather science and technology, to form commissions for special studies and to establish international methods of samples and testing leather and materials associated with leather manufacturing.
As of 2019, the IULTCS organization has held 35 Congresses in seventeen different countries on five continents.


iultcs 2019 Dietrich Tegtmeyer, Jakov Buljan and Thomas Yu

From the left: Dietrich Tegtmeyer, Jakov Buljan and Thomas Yu

Jakov Buljan was the recipient of the 2019 IULTCS Merit Award for Excellence in the Leather Industry. Here are the key concepts conveyed by his acceptance speech, concerning the leather industry’s environmental performances:
On the whole, tanners do not pollute, they actually prevent pollution;
As long as people eat meat and consume milk, there will be hides and skins;
There is no cleaner leather processing technology that makes end-of-pipe treatment superfluous;
Chrome-free does not imply better environmental performance, very often it is quite the opposite. However, it is hard to defend that view when research papers and advertisements of suppliers of specialty chemicals again and again start with that premise. Yes, due to pressures by important buyers, the leather industry has to look for alternatives, but this does mean that that technically incorrect view should be endorsed.
In his opinion, in arid regions, effluent salinity is by far the most challenging issue to the tanning industry in comparison with which chrome management is almost
irrelevant. The LWG Protocol could reflect it even better;
A modern tannery is a pleasant place to work. Dirt & malodour are signs of poor management.