COTANCE press release June 2011

COTANCE complains against the adoption by the EU of a penalising descriptor for  Leather on Textile clothing labels

The representatives of the European Leather Industry meeting in Council in Rome regret the approval of the EU Regulation on Textile Names and Labelling of Textile products by the European Parliament last 15 May 2011. That vote opens the way to a compulsory labelling for leather trims on clothing to be sold in the EU that penalises leather with a denigrating descriptor.

The presence of leather as a trim in a textile clothing will have to be indicated with the mention “Contains non-textile parts of animal origin”.

Such a mention denies the material “Leather” the right to be called by its name! Describing leather by other than its name is likely to cause confusion and dis-educate consumers to the detriment of the sector’s cultural and industrial heritage.

Allergic sufferers – the alleged beneficiaries of the rule – are not served by a mention that does not specifically address the cause of their problems while the adopted message associates a negative image to a number of products of animal origin that have a well gained legitimacy. It is highly concerning that the affected sectors have not been consulted at all by public authorities and that the economic and social consequences on supply chains have not been assessed.

COTANCE expressed its objections to the EP amendments implementing this provision in a letter to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council Presidency in March 2010. COTANCE regrets that its views have been simply ignored and its concerns unanswered.

The European Leather industry calls on the EU institutions to reconsider the implementation of this particular label indication and to finally develop the much-expected Regulation of Leather Terms and Labelling of Leather articles that the leather sector and European consumers deserve.

Rome, 16 June 2011

Who is Tony Covington?

Tony Covington delivering the Procter Memorial Lecture at the recent SLTC Conference in Northampton
Tony Covington delivering the Procter Memorial Lecture at the recent SLTC Conference in Northampton

Over the last few years the leather sector at Northampton has spent big sums on its tannery, updated its classrooms and reception, reorganised its courses and gone through a major rebranding exercise to transform itself into the Institute for Creative Leather. Press release after press release has gone out and they have all been published in one form or another. Press conferences have been held and questions asked.  These events have been pretty momentous in the 130 years of leather education in the UK. It is the first time we have had a course structure and premises really suited to meet the contemporary educational needs of the world of leather.  Yet all these tumultuous events have been like ripples on the water compared to the last few years of Tony Covington’s career.

To get a feel for the status of leather scientists in the leather world you only have to check Graham Lampard’s excellent article in Leather International in 2009 entitled “who are the top leather scientists?” The list was quite long and with the exception of some important Italians whom Graham had omitted everyone agreed it was pretty much correct.  Here it is:

Leather Scientists Pre 1940

Henry Richardson Procter
Douglas McCandlish
Louis Meunier
John Arthur Wilson
Mieth Maeser
Fred O’Flaherty
Edmund Stiasny
A Seymour Jones
David Woodroffe
Dorothy Jordan-Lloyd

Leather Scientists 1940-1970

Joanne Bowes
R Mitton
Robert L Sykes
Eckhart Heidemann
Willi Pauckner
Mary Dempsey
Robert Lollar
Humberto Giovambattista
Axel Landmann
K Gustavson

Leather Scientists Post 1970

Heinz-Peter Germann
Anthony D Covington
Samir Das Gupta
T Ramasami
David Bailey
Karl-Heinz Munz
Eleanor M Brown
Catherine Money
Jaume Cot
Marc Folachier

These are names that are in the main well known to many of us. For a small industry we have been lucky to have produced so many characters. Each of us might have others to add in, especially those who have watched the skill of some of the scientists in the chemical industry in the last few years and in the tanneries people like Jim Jackman at the height of his career with Booth International.

As expected the two major sources have been the research associations and the leather schools of the world. Today the famous research associations have largely evolved towards testing and consultancy houses as they have been left stranded in countries whose rich tanneries have been in decline for five years or more.  This has pushed more research towards the chemical companies who have offered huge new developments in dyestuffs, finishes, performance chemicals, and less wasteful processes.

The arrival in recent years of EU chemical legislation, health and safety, and environmental requirements has meant that more and more of the chemical industry resources have been directed towards compliance. For new research the role of research at educational institutes seems set to return, hopefully collaborating with industry in formats not seen since the 19th century.

So the industry is in need of more Tony Covingtons.  After a long successful career with BLC Tony transferred to the BSLT when leather research began and he has consistently produced top quality research. Time and again he has asked the industry to reconsider the fundamentals of what is happening in the drums and his new book and recent lectures makes that clear. Over the last few years again and again the industry has recognised this contribution by giving him top awards and asking to hear him lecture.  For students at Northampton they have the dynamic mix of learning basic technology, fully grounded from industry experts and on the other hand hearing Tony explain the processing from an entirely different aspect of beautiful science.

Soon we will be showing off our new laboratories, and will be able to see the electron microscope without leaving the building. There will be more press releases and everyone will be very proud.

Long term it is quite clear that it is the teachers and the teaching that make the difference.  Great teachers and researchers like Tony Covington are rare. Tony has to be congratulated.  Here at Northampton w

e need to find more Tony Covingtons.

Pfofessor Tony Covington

Mike Redwood
Thursday, 16 June 2011