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Call for Europe to protect leather definition

European tanneries want protection for their use of the word 'leather'.

COTANCE – the representative body for tanneries within the European Union (EU) – has stated that a new law passed in Italy to preserve the identity and authenticity of leather should apply across all 27 member states. In May, the Italian Government’s Council of Ministers approved new legislation to protect the term ‘leather’. As a result, companies will not be able to use this word to describe synthetic substitutes and footwear manufacturers who use such materials must ensure that their product descriptions are not in breach of the new law. Terms such as 'pelle' and 'cuoio' will only be permitted on materials made from animal hides and skins.

Other nations with such legislation include Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, while Hungary and Portugal are said to be currently working on similar initiatives. The industry body has called on Thierry Breton – European commissioner for enterprise and the internal market – to adopt a regulation on the use of the term 'leather'.

According to COTANCE, an EU-wide law would end the practice of companies marketing synthetic alternatives as 'leather'. The organisation claims that EU consumers are exposed to 'a myriad of deceptive commercial practices' in their purchases of articles sold as leather, and estimates that European tanners are losing €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion/$1.9 billion) per year as a result – 20 per cent of the region’s entire leather sector turnover.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 2 of the July/August 2020 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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