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3 minute read - 19th September 2023

Bridge of Weir Leather opens new super tannery

Bridge of Weir Leather, a producer of automotive leather and part of Scottish Leather Group, has opened its new hyper-efficient super tannery, following a £14m investment programme.

The new facility is the result of the latest round of multi-million pound investments in its facilities by Scottish Leather Group. Over the last seven years, £14m has been invested in a 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. Bridge of Weir Leather supplies automotive brands including Aston Martin, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover and Polestar.

Bridge of Weir Leather has opened its new super tannery and completed a £14m investment programme / Picture: Bridge of Weir 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 also critical to its successful operation and maintaining the company’s 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.

The investment reduces energy and water use by 82% and 42% respectively / Picture: Bridge of Weir Leather

Nicholas Muirhead, chief executive officer at 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.”

Dr Warren Bowden, head of innovation and sustainability at Scottish Leather Group, added: “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 and ultrafiltration plant.”

The group’s recent 2023 environmental, social, and governance report details its progress towards its ambition of achieving net zero leather production by 2025 and how the business is supporting 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.

Bridge of Weir Leather supplies automotive brands including Aston Martin, McLaren, Jaguar Land Rover and Polestar / Picture: Bridge of Weir Leather

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