With so many types of leather alternatives on the market, it can be hard to understand the differences between them. We’ll be taking a look at recycled leather – how does it square up to traditional leather? Is it sustainable? What’s the difference between recycled and bonded leather

What is recycled leather and how is it made?

Recycled leather takes leather manufacturing waste and gives it new life. Many industries have been using leather due to its strength and longevity. And its association with luxury. Fashion industry is a big consumer of leather hides. As is the transport industry. Leather is so popular because it looks good and it lasts. Shockingly, though, only 25% of all leather hides are actually used. The rest go to landfill.

This is where recycled leather comes in.

So how is it made? Leather offcuts are ground into fibres. They are then reconstructed together and entangled with a high-performance core using nothing but the power of high-pressure water. Resulting in a material produced on a roll that’s easier for manufacturers to work with. It can be made in any colour with a range of textures to choose from. It looks and feels just like traditional leather. But is less damaging to the planet.

ELeather is our recycled leather. We are the original manufacturer of recycled, engineered leather tackling the widespread issue of excesive waste. ELeather outperforms leather in every way. It’s made sustainably in a unique process. Offering change for the planet, luxury for consumers. Read more about how our material is made [1].

Is recycled leather sustainable?

Our article about the sustainable material revolution [2] notes that “true sustainability is about making sure that one positive impact doesn’t create more problems.” The leather manufacturing industry has been creating a lot of unutilised waste that, in most part, is sent to landfill.
Up to 75% of all leather hides are wasted, along with the water, land and carbon used to produce them. Why? Because leather has a lot of naturally occurring imperfections that many industries consider undesirable.

Recycled leather is different. It seeks to stop that waste going to landfill by reprocessing it so it’s useful again. Since recycled leather is using what’s considered waste as its raw ingredient, it’s not adding to landfill but reducing what is sent there. The nuances of how recycled leather is processed can vary. These processing differences can be sustainable or not depending on the manufacturer. Not all recycled leather is equal.

At ELeather we don’t just reduce landfill waste; we process it sustainably. The electricity we use is 100% renewable. We recycle 95% of the water we use in the hydroentanglement process which is adhesive-free. ELeather reduces CO2 by over 60%, saves over 55% on natural resources such as land and water, and reduces yield loss compared to traditional leather.

Through our method of manufacturing we have already saved thousands of tonnes of leather from landfill since production began in 2011. To learn more on the positive impact of sustainable leather, visit our sustainability page [3].

Where is recycled leather used?

Recycled leather can be used in place of traditional leather but also wherever other textiles are used. It’s durable in nature, with a luxury finish. ELeather is used globally in the aviation, automotive, public transport and lifestyle industries as a lighter, more durable alternative to traditional leather. Upholstering vehicle and aircraft seats with ELeather reduces weight. This in turn, lowers carbon emissions, saves fuel, make interiors more hygienic and easier to maintain.

Switching to ELeather for aircraft seating can save a considerable amount of fuel and, eventually, cost. While passengers benefit from seats that retain their shape and scuff-free appearance for longer, as well as an antimicrobial, easy-to-wipe clean finish. Aeromexico [4] have been gradually switching their fleet to ELeather, while Denver Airport [5] reupholstered their new airport gate seating with it.

Recycled leather vs bonded leather

Recycled leather is built to last. It’s scratch and sag resistant even with heavy, daily use (think heavy footfall in an airport or on a bus). Recycled leather has a high leather fibre content and can be produced in line with manufacturing sustainability standards – as is the case at ELeather.

ELeather recycled leather has a recycled content of up to 55%. Bonded leather, in general, less than 20%. Its durability varies but it’s fair to assume, that compared to quality of traditional leather and ELeather, it boasts a short lifespan and is not immune to defects like peeling or flaking over time.

Should you switch to recycled leather?

Switching material suppliers is never easy and straightforward. You have to think of your requirements – performance, longevity, luxury, sustainability – but also safety features like fire retardancy.
It is more than likely ELeather will meet your requirements given the fact it outperforms leather and is used by global brands in number of applications. Our recycled leather offers the best of both worlds. It’s soft, comfortable and luxurious. Durable, versatile and sustainable

Reasons to switch

• ELeather outperforms leather in every way
• Lasts up to five times longer than traditional leather.
• Scuff and scratch resistant
• Doesn’t sag and bag over time even in high footfall applications
• Is lighter than traditional leather
• Manufacturing process emits less than half CO2 compared to traditional leather
• Saves thousands of tonnes of leather from landfill
• Offers up to 90% yield
• Is a stable and consistent material eliminating visual and structural defects

Using sustainably produced recycled leather, like ELeather, can significantly help your business get closer to your carbon emissions goal, save money in seat cover production and improve customer comfort. Small changes really do make a big impact.