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International leather congress held in Dresden

Reporting on the recent IULTCS event.

by Christine Powley-Williams

The International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) was founded in London in 1897. Its aim is to foster cooperation between member societies, to further the advancement of leather science and technology, to form commissions for special studies, and to establish international methods of sampling and testing leather and materials associated with leather manufacture.

The XXV IULTCS Congress was held in Dresden, Germany in June 2019, welcomed 440 delegates from 27 countries, and had the overall theme of ‘Benign by design – leather – the future through science and technology’. The presentations focused on using research and development as the basis of continuous improvement with regard to material properties, efficient technologies and sustainable processes. Great emphasis was given on caring for human health and the environment, as well as consumption of non-renewable resources.

Topics under discussion

The programme started with the keynote Heidemann Lecture, ‘As tough as leather: macro to nano scale perspectives of collagen’, which investigated the functional significance of collagen in connective tissue. There were a number of practical papers considering such issues as ‘the lifecycle analysis (LCA) of leather’, and ‘the use of vegetable tanning materials as natural antibacterial agents that can interact with shoe inhabiting bacteria to help ease the problem of foot odour’, which is a common problem with sports footwear.

SATRA’s Christine Powley-Williams – a member of the IULTCS Executive Committee – chaired the final session of the congress. This focused on ‘sustainability and promoting the benefits of leather as a sustainable material’. The session included a lively presentation by Germany-based Zirkeltraining, which upcycles materials from school gymnasiums – such as leather from pommel horses and the fabric from crash mats – into a variety of leathergoods, including luggage and bags. The demand for its products has been so great that the company is now struggling to access enough old equipment to use.

For the first time, the organisers of the congress launched the ‘Scientific Patronage Initiative’, in which a number of companies financially assisted young people to attend the congress who would otherwise be unable to participate. A total of 74 students from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, New Zealand, Tanzania, Turkey and the UK were given support with their registration and travel costs.

The photograph at the top of this page shows from left: Dr Alex Föller – secretary general of the TEGEWA chemicals manufacturers’ association, Bernd Dörr (owner of Zirkeltraining), SATRA’s Christine Powley-Williams and Markus Kreykenbohm of Zirkeltraining.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 46 of the September 2019 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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