The global leather industry is calling for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to suspend the score it applies to leather in the latest update of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), on the grounds that it is based on “inappropriate methodologies” and “out-of-date, unrepresentative, inaccurate and incomplete data.”

Launched in 2012, the Higg Index aims to help brands, retailers and manufacturers assess the sustainability of materials for use in footwear, garments and other consumer products.

Leading leather industry bodies, led by the International Council of Tanners and including the Leather and Hide Council of America, the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies, and leather’s representative body in the European Union, COTANCE, have sent a joint-letter to the SAC to request that it suspend leather’s MSI score pending reviews of the methodologies and data it uses.

In the letter, Dr. Kerry Senior, the Secretary of the International Council of Tanners, writes, “This has led to a negative perception of leather that does not reflect its sustainable, circular nature. On the basis of the current Higg score, manufacturers are deselecting leather in favour of fossil fuel-derived, unsustainable synthetic products. We believe that the reputation and viability of leather and leather manufacturers are being unfairly damaged by an assessment that does not reflect the true nature of leather or, indeed, the alternatives.”

The leather industry remains committed to promoting the sustainability of leather; the Leather and Hide Council of America has recently launched a new international video campaign under the banner “Real Leather. Stay Different.” to promote its natural, sustainable and durable properties. The campaign will be promoted entirely through social channels.