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The Advantages of ZDHC MRSL Level 1 Certification for the Leather Industry

Chemicals used in leather production can be harmful to the environment. Obtaining ZDHC MRSL Level 1 compliance certification demonstrates your commitment to sustainability.

The Advantages of ZDHC MRSL Level 1 Certification for the Leather Industry

July 30, 2019

Leather companies must be aware of the impact that certain chemicals used in production processes can have on the environment, and consequently on living beings. Accurate control of products, processes and discharges is essential to structure a strategy that allows these companies to eliminate the use of polluting and/or dangerous substances from intentional use.

This monitoring can take place in various ways including the control of discharges (wastewater and sludge) and the control of the products used. The virtuous mechanism created is therefore linked to the continuous improvement of the chemicals used to help ensure that wastewater or production sludge is less rich in these substances.

What are the substances that tanning companies need to monitor?

The list of these restricted substances makes up Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals’ (ZDHC) Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) V1.1, which includes chemicals banned from intentional use in plants for the processing of leather, textile materials and upholstery parts of fabrics, clothing and footwear.

Among the chemical formulations covered by restrictions in ZDHC’s MRSL V1.1, we find detergents, adhesives, paints, inks, detergents, dyes, auxiliaries, coatings and finishing agents used during the production of raw materials, wet processing, maintenance of the process machines, wastewater treatment, sanitation and pest control.

The limits of ZDHC MRSL V1.1 apply to the substances in the formulations available on the market, not to those of the phases preceding the chemical synthesis.

In November 2019, ZDHC released MRSL V2.0, which includes new substrates such as rubbers, adhesives and foams, and a series of additional substances to be monitored with respect to MRSL V1.1 including medium chain paraffins (MMCP) — with a 500 parts per million (ppm) formulation limit for the tanning industry — some anti-microbial agents such as o‑phenylphenol (with the exception of the tanning industry), permethrin and triclosan.

It is important to highlight the addition from scratch of compounds of interest to the tanning industry, which until now have not been monitored, for example, borate zinc-salt, bisphenol A, thiourea, quinoline and AEEA [2-(2‑aminoethylamino)ethanol].

Among the novelties we also find the inclusion of compounds known as ultraviolet (UV) absorbers, which include UV-350, UV-320, UV-327 and UV-328.

Finally, some classes of compounds already present in MRSL V1.1 have been updated with the addition of new elements. In this category, we find chlorophenols, azo dyes that can form regulated amines, disperse dyes, flame retardants, other organostannic compounds and other phthalates.

The list of heavy metals has also been expanded.

After a period of coexistence of the two versions of the MRSL (MRSL V1.1 and MRSL V2.0), the MRSL V2.0 will remain the only reference version for the certifications of substances and chemical formulations after January 2021.

What is the process for certification?

The ZDHC has authorized some laboratories, including UL, to carry out a thorough review of the documentation of the samples subjected to analysis and proceed with the chemical analysis of the samples to validate the conformity of the product, providing the necessary documentation to demonstrate compliance with the requirements Level 1 ZDHC.

Level 1 compliance is the first step by chemical companies to better assist the tanning, textile, clothing and footwear industries in the supply of safer chemicals.

The authorized laboratories carry out specific assessments to verify that the product meets the parameters required by the ZDHC Level 1 MRSL in qualitative, quantitative and methodological terms.

The ZDHC MRSL Level 1 certification of compliance helps to demonstrate that the chemical formulations used in the production of an article do not contain any of the substances on the list.

The value of ZDHC MRSL Level 1 compliance certification.

The protection of the environment, human health and the surrounding area is the first benefit deriving from the implementation of a “greener” strategy.

In addition, this certification of compliance explicitly demonstrates an increasingly constant corporate commitment in the field of sustainability.

The Level 1 certification allows increased visibility of the leather companies in the supply chain to understand more clearly and quickly the potential risks and dangers throughout the production process.

The use of ZDHC MRSL compliant chemical formulations allows tanning companies to help assure themselves and their customers that banned chemicals are not used intentionally during production and manufacturing processes.

For more information on the process and benefits of ZDHC Level 1 MRSL certification, contact us and start your sustainable path!

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UL's ZDHC MRSL Level 1 certification

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