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ADDIS ABABA – A new EU backed initiative aims to turn Ethiopia into a global leader for environmentally friendly leather products. The programme is aimed at collaborating with Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories on different sustainable consumption and production practices. This includes improving the selection system for hides, developing tanning-methods using less or even no chrome, salt, water and energy, and improving waste treatment and working conditions in the leather value chain.

Chemical supplier Stahl, Solidaridad and Dutch NGO CSR Netherlands launched the ‘Green Tanning Initiative’ at the All African Leather Fair in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The three year programme, funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Africa Green initiative, is aimed at promoting environmental friendly leather making and creating sustainable employment in the Ethiopian leather industry.

“Ethiopia is renowned for its livestock of 56 million and its fine leather, especially from the famed hair sheep”, said Heske Verburg, managing director Solidaridad Europe.

“At the same time, few European companies have established direct business relations with Ethiopia yet. We believe there is ample opportunity to build those relations and to have Ethiopia play a more significant role as supplier of leather and leather goods to the European market.”

The initiative is currently working with a group of five European companies interested in doing business with Ethiopian leather makers, of which three are already procuring leather and leather goods there.

The initiative is in close alignment with the Ethiopian government’s strategy to stimulate the growth and competitiveness of the Ethiopian leather industry, with the ultimate goal of becoming a global leader in the manufacturing and trading of environmentally friendly and high quality leather products.

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