Despite the fact that the leather industry is one of the oldest trades and leather probably may be considered the first example of waste recycling (recycling of animal skins), tanneries have been brought into disrepute for their effect on the environment time and again. The limiting values for environmentally harmful emissions, however, were not introduced on account of the leather industry but represent limiting values that apply to all industrial sectors. In Europe, especially in Germany and in Switzerland, we have the lowest limiting values in absolute terms for environmental emissions. The other countries may well have similarly stringent laws but not all are as consistent in enforcing them.
Switzerland issued limiting values for waste water discharges very early on and as a result had more time for their enforcement. As regards waste management, there is a fundamental difference in relation to most European countries in that Switzerland on account of its size has very few waste disposal sites but all the more waste incineration plants instead. Waste is therefore mainly burnt in Switzerland.
If a production plant does not exceed the emission limiting values as we know them in Switzerland, it complies with the highest standards world-wide as regards waste water, exhaust air, waste materials and building ecology.