A potential new commercial method for processing leather to reduce environmental impact



Current leather processing method involves dehairing and fibre opening employing lime and sulphide, which results in higher negative impact on the environment due to its uncleanness. This method of dehairing and fibre-opening process accounts for nearly 70–80% biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand (COD) in tannery wastewater and also the generation of H2S gas.

Materials and methods

Hence, an attempt has been made to reduce the environmental impact of the leather processing through a biochemical approach, employing proteolytic enzyme and sodium metasilicate for performing the above process more cleanly.

Results and discussion

The developed process exhibits significant reduction in environmental parametres such as COD and total solid loads by 55% and 25%, respectively. This method completely avoids the formation of lime sludge.


The functional properties of the leathers are also on par with conventionally processed leathers. Further, the process seems to be commercially viable.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. Raghava Rao.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Lee Young

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Bhavan, S., Rao, J.R. & Nair, B.U. A potential new commercial method for processing leather to reduce environmental impact. Environ Sci Pollut Res 15, 293 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-008-0001-8

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  • Beamhouse
  • Biochemical oxygen demand
  • BOD
  • Chemical oxygen demand
  • COD
  • Enzymes
  • Leather processing
  • Tannery wastewater
  • Tanning