Bridge of Weir Leather, supplier of Fine Automotive Leather to the world’s most respected luxury car brands, has today further cemented its position as a global sustainability leader in its field with the opening of a hyper-efficient new Super Tannery.
Setting new standards for the production of leather, the new facility is the result of the latest round of multi-million-pound investments in its world-class facilities from Scottish Leather Group (SLG).
Over the last seven years, £14 million has been invested in a wide range of strategic innovations and improvements, culminating in the Super Tannery, with a central focus on hide processing technology. Tanning, one of the first steps of the leather production process, involves hides undergoing treatment in drums filled with water and tanning agents to provide them with distinctive strong, flexible and durable quality characteristics necessary for the highest quality leather.
Compared to previous equipment, the Super Tannery reduces the total number of hide drums from 30 to 14, while at the same time enabling Bridge of Weir to process greater batches. The state-of-the-art technology brings about a further step change in energy and water use with a reduction versus previous equipment of 82% (energy) and 42% (water). In addition, and as part of its commitment to complete circularity, the outgoing wooden drums from the tannery have also been stripped down and repurposed.
While the environmental performance has been dramatically increased, the recruitment and retention of skilled workers is critical to its successful operation and ensuring the company’s sector-leading quality standards.
Improvements in efficiency and sustainability from the new Super Tannery, which is now fully operational feed into Bridge of Weir’s Life Cycle Analysis, currently a sector-leading 8kg CO2e/m2 on average, which provides car makers with an independently verified and quantifiable contribution to their Scope 3 reduction targets.
Nicholas Muirhead, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Leather Group, said:
"Since 2003, we have continuously invested in strategic initiatives designed to optimise and improve productivity, quality and sustainability. The new Super Tannery is the latest significant milestone on that journey."
"It’s a state-of-the-art facility that builds on the considerable savings we have already made in reduced energy and water use, improving our efficiency, and futureproofing our production. This will provide our customers with further evidence of Bridge of Weir’s position as the leader in the supply of sustainable Fine Automotive Leather for the world’s luxury car brands.”
Dr Warren Bowden, Head of Innovation & Sustainability, Scottish Leather Group said: “Over the last twenty years, we have pioneered and patented circular manufacturing processes that minimise waste to landfill and radically reduce our carbon footprint, with initiatives such as our Thermal Energy Plant [TEP} and Ultrafiltration plant."
"The Super Tannery builds on these sector-leading actions, providing a step change in productivity and environmental savings. Our sustainability journey is continuous, and this new facility will play a vital role in enabling us to achieve zero impact leather manufacturing. We are committed to net-zero for our own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025 – ahead of Scotland’s net-zero ambitions – and delivering zero waste to landfill by the same year, further fortifying our sustainability pledges.”
The Group’s recent 2023 ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) report details its progress towards its ambition of achieving net zero leather production by 2025 and how the business can directly support its customers’ sustainability targets.
Among the key achievements it highlights are a 90% reduction in the carbon intensity of its leather over the last 20 years, 100% traceability of raw materials and 77% of waste recycled in 2022.
It also provides details of the group’s latest industry accolades including a sought-after ‘Gold’ award from global standards organisation, the Leather Working Group, in recognition of its accomplishments in operations of key areas including staff performance, business structure, business resilience, and health and safety.
Further notable accreditations include endorsement of the group’s working practices by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX), which assures ethical trading and compliance with international labour standards, while the group’s track record in health & safety was recognised for the 12th consecutive year by Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold awards.
Dr Warren Bowden, adds: ‘The continuing expansion of our product offering through innovation and improvement of operational performance across the ESG agenda, in line with all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), reflects the passion we have for our products and the responsibility we hold as sustainable manufacturers.’
As part of its leading sustainable leather production process, Bridge of Weir sources natural, clean, local water from its own loch – its Water Treatment & Recycling Plant (WTRP) plant enables the recycling of up to 40% of treated water back into use within production – while its world-class tannery uses 50% less water per hide than the industry standard.
The raw hides used to make Bridge of Weir leather are always sourced from responsible suppliers with 100% traceability and without risk of deforestation.
It is the only automotive leather manufacturer to publish an independent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of the product and makes the lowest carbon leather for the sector, helping its customers reduce their carbon impact without offsetting. The LCA will be revised as further improvements or reductions to direct product impact are made.
Bridge of Weir Leather is the ultimate upcycled material made via a ‘circular’ low impact manufacturing process. All the raw hides used by Bridge of Weir in leather-making are a by-product of the local beef and dairy industries, of which over 98% are sourced within the UK and Ireland. Upcycling raw hides prevents them from going to landfill where they would emit hundreds of tonnes of methane each year.
Bridge of Weir leather is the material of choice for the world’s leading automotive luxury brands, including Aston Martin, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover and Polestar, thanks to its quality, durability, versatility, and sustainability.