A year has passed since the success of the very first edition of the Sustainable Leather Forum, an event dedicated to CSR best practices in the leather sector, and awareness among French people of the environmental and societal aspects of their consumption continues to grow. This shows that efforts to make sustainable and responsible consumption a familiar concept have been successful; it is now time to build “the world of the future.”

A natural and sustainable material, produced from the upcycling of waste from the food
industry, leather is therefore perfectly attuned to this change in purchasing and consumption behaviour.

For this new edition of the forum dedicated to Corporate Social Responsibility, the Conseil
National du Cuir has chosen for its venue the Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental (le CESE), in the very heart of Paris.

The goal of this new event is to assess the actions and the progress made by the French leather industry over the last year, and to identify the strategic areas and concrete solutions that can reconcile strong economic models, respect for the environment and territorial attractiveness, through a series of testimonies and discussions involving some 20 experts and professionals from the sector.

Thanks to the presence of 250 participants, including French and international professionals
from the fashion, leather, footwear, leather goods, glove making and luxury sectors, but
also institutional figures, opinion leaders and representatives of public organisations, the forum aims to facilitate discussions and reflection during round tables, in order to examine the subject of CSR further, in social, environmental or economic terms.

In the context of the current threefold health, economic and social crisis with which we are all familiar, this new edition will address crucial CSR issues for the sector: risk management
in the leather sector, responsible buying policies and the harmlessness of products, innovations and best practices in the sectors of raw hides and tanneries, the circular economy in footwear and leather goods and finally, training, know-how and attractiveness.
In addition, this forum takes place within a wider context of the Green New Deal driven by the new European executive.


Since time immemorial, man has used the skins of the animals that he eats, transforming them into leather and using them for clothing. Indeed, leather is a key by-product of the food industry and an historic example of upcycling, a practice that consists in recovering materials or products for which we no longer have use in order to transform them into materials or products of superior quality and/or use.

In addition to its recycled nature, leather is a noble material, durable over time and repairable, thus fulfilling many of the criteria of the circular economy and CSR.

Leading figures from the economic and political world took part in the opening and closing sessions of the Forum, including Paola Migliorini from the European Commission, Carole Couvert from the CESE (Conseil économique, social et environnemental), Alain Griset, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Olivia Grégoire, Minister of State for the Social, Inclusive and Responsible Economy. In between the four round tables, key industry names such as Kering, Vigéo-Eiris, LVMH Group and Hermès shared their experiences.


Risk management and Corporate Social Responsibility are now indissociable as the corporate environment has become more complex. The proximity of these two disciplines was highlighted in particular during this second edition of the Sustainable Leather Forum by the experts from Mazars and EcoVadis.

Among the risks facing companies in the sector, global sourcing was once again at the heart of discussions at the forum as consumers are increasingly questioning the origins of products. Consequently, the laser marking of hides and skins, a brand-new traceability system developed by the French leather industry (CTC, Fédération Française de la Tannerie Mégisserie and the Syndicat Général des Cuirs et Peaux) presented during the first edition of the Forum is becoming more widespread in abattoirs and French tanneries, guaranteeing the origins of the skins and offering greater transparency for the user.

The harmlessness of leather items, shoes and other leather goods is an absolute priority for the profession. A particular focus on this was made by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), which developed the European Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation in 2007, in order to combat the risks from chemical substances.This concern with harmlessness applies in France, in Europe and also around the world, which is why CTC presented a panorama of applicable measures when it took the floor.

With regard to professional risks, substantial resources have also been deployed within leather companies to improve management and working life for employees (use of exo-skeletons, training programmes, etc.)


Aware of the need to preserve natural resources, ensure animal welfare, work within short supply chains and maintain employee satisfaction, the upstream part of the French leather sector has been engaged in responsible development for a number of years. CSR best practices have become more widespread, from farming through to the production of items in leather.

Ethical concerns such as animal welfare are one of the major issues for the leather industry. Prevention and treatment of diseases, appropriate protection, suitable care and nutrition, handling under regulated conditions and with respect for the animal are values that guarantee the quality of the finished product, meaning they are high on the list of priorities of companies in the sector.

The animal welfare chair at VetAgro Sup, the national institute for higher education and research in foodstuffs, animal health, agronomic sciences and the environment, offers MOOCs on animal welfare and has developed the “five animal freedoms” in its work, to take this approach further.

Respect for human beings and improvements in working conditions, another essential pillar of CSR, are key concerns of the leather sector.

Important innovations have been implemented, and the use of tools such as automatic folders to assist operators in their movements, thus reducing musculoskeletal disorders and making the work somewhat less demanding, is becoming more widespread. The raw hide firm SVA Jean Rozé told of its achievements in this area during their presentation.

Certifications exist, particularly in the tannery sector, to attest to the efforts and results of companies. One is LWG (Leather Working Group), which ensures the sustainable and responsible production of leather through the respect of standards governing safety, the reduction of toxic substances and lower consumption of water and energy. Concrete examples were presented by Groupe Saturne, owners of two tanneries reputed for their quality processes.

The international institutions, COTANCE (Confederation of European Tanneries) and IULTCS (International Association of Leather Trades Chemists) demonstrated during their presentation that they were also very active in proposing both technical and regulatory innovations.


The concept of a circular economy has become a key feature for industries that consume large quantities of raw materials. It is particularly true in the footwear and leather goods sectors, which mainly work with leather, because of its intrinsic properties of durability, maintenance and reparability.

With a trend in recent years for slow fashion and consumer behaviour rapidly evolving towards responsible and sustainable consumption, shoe and bag producers have developed new ranges.

J.M. Weston is committed to this approach and invites consumers to participate in the circular economy by dropping off their used footwear (in exchange for a voucher valid on all the label’s products), so that they can be refreshed and offered for sale once again, thus responding to this goal of sustainable and ethical consumption.

Groupe Eram, which presented its offer for shoe rental with L’Atelier Bocage at the first edition of the Sustainable Leather Forum, now intends to go further in its quest for a circular economy. With the Sessile project, it is offering unisex, sustainable sneakers bearing the Origine France Garantie label, made using recycled and recyclable materials.

A shoe-dismantling process is currently being patented in order to offer a second life to the product, which will be entirely recycled into a brand-new pair of Sessile sneakers: a truly complete virtuous circle.

This circular economy is, however, not the exclusive preserve of big companies. For example, Bleu de Chauffe, an SME from the leather goods sector, explained how it applies this virtuous approach thanks to its adapted products.


The professions and know-how of the leather sector have been anchored in the territories of France for a very long time, resulting in the development of specific regional skills and expertise. The leather industry is therefore part of France’s economic and cultural heritage and this regional presence must be preserved in order to encourage the creation of local jobs and ensure these specific skills live on among the artisans of the sector.

The transmission of knowledge is therefore an issue of great importance for leather companies, some of whom have created their own training centres and specific courses on current issues, such as sustainable fashion.

That is why the IFM (Institut Français de la Mode) opened in 2019 the “IFM-Kering Sustainability Chair,” which generated strong interest from students, keenly committed to the hot topic of sustainable and ethical fashion. If proof were needed of student interest in this area, the Ecological Awakening collective was formed in 2018 and currently boasts some 30 000 student members from more than 400 higher education establishments, sharing a common goal: to act on the ecological challenge.

CTC also took the floor to talk about continuing professional development in the various professions of the leather, footwear, leather goods and glove sectors, illustrating the important progress made in recent years in terms of the availability of training.