Leaves from the olive tree have always been seen as a by-product of the oil industry. However, in 2011, olives leaves took a new shape and made its way to the leather industry. Oils extracted from the olive leaves made way for a new tanning system, where active tanning agents are similar to the ones present in extra virgin olive oil. Wet-green added itself to the list of alternative tannages from metal-free. The leathers shrinkage temperature is roughly 76 degrees Celsius and is suitable for vegetable and synthetic retanning. The characteristics of Wetgreen are positive indications to the future of leather. It has great tensile strength, outstanding embossabililty properties as well as good dimensional stability, and these aspects make it ideal for automotive as well as many other articles.
Wetgreen operates as its own brand based in Reutlingen since it has been patented. In 2013 they were awarded the Cradle to Cradle Certificate in Gold for their innovation of Wetgreen. The aspects that were honourable were the fact that Wetgreen shavings can be reused and can be easily reintegrated into material flow.
Heller-Leder in 2011 was one of the first tanneries to put Wetgreen into production. There is a select few tanneries that produce Wetgreen, predominantly in Germany; Heller-Leder, Hewa-Leder, Leder Reinhardt and Sohre Leder. In 2014 BMW won the Automotive Interiors Expo Award for Production Interior Vehicle Design of the Year. BMW has made the head way for the Wetgreen using it in their i3 series of electric cars. This new tannage is great for CSR (corporate social responsibility) as it is adding to the sustainability of not only the leather but to the company.
Could Wetgreen be the new future answer to metal-free tannages? With further more restrictions coming into place via REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authentication and Restriction of Chemicals list), Wetgreen may well be the answer.
“Sustainability is the future.”