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Innovative technology

In a research project, LANXESS has developed a completely new technology for recycling remains in leather production.


Under the title “Resource-efficient production of leather chemicals” (ReeL), the specialty chemicals company collaborated with the research institute INVITE from Leverkusen on the realization of a concept for a modular plant for the production of a retanning agent with the brand name “X-Biomer” from leather offcuts, trimmings and shavings, up until now generally a waste product for disposal, and plant-based biomass. The innovative plant can be operated on-site in tanneries. The modular production line manufactured by INVITE at HELLER-LEDER is currently being tested under real conditions.   


With this innovation project, production residues from the leather manufacturing process can be recycled on-site in tanneries and that we can significantly improve the sustainability profile of the leather manufacturing industry. This is important in comparison to the traditional production of retanning agents, which used to take place in central production sites far away from the tanneries.

Complete recycling without emissions

A medium sized tannery produces between one and two metric tons of shavings per day. With a production plant leased from LANXESS, the tannery would be able to produce a comparable volume of liquid X-Biomer for retanning. The process recycles shavings completely, without any residues or emissions. The aim of the project is to offer tanners the X-Biomer product with a concept that is not only ecological, but also economically sustainable.


In this way, a tannery would be able to automatically and largely independently produce a part of its own needs for retanning agents like those offered by LANXESS in its X-Biomer range. This project is a very promising step towards an even more sustainable production concept. While on the one hand, ‘on-site’ and ‘just in time’ production brings enormous savings of resources in terms of energy, logistics, and packaging, on the other hand, by-products like shavings containing collagen can be utilized as a raw material for the production of the retanning chemicals required.


The three-year joint project with the partners INVITE GmbH and HELLER-LEDER GmbH & Co. KG has an investment volume totaling five million euros. The modular production plant constructed by INVITE is currently being tested under realistic production conditions at the HELLER-LEDER tannery.



Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the industry

In the meantime, sustainability is also essential in the leather industry. Within its “Sustainable Leather Management” initiative, LANXESS therefore offers its customers in the leather industry innovative technologies to assist them in the realization of sustainable, ecologically compatible products and processes – without making compromises in quality.


The company’s products bring measurable benefits in terms of reduced emissions or a reduced carbon footprint, which ultimately makes a positive contribution to the prevention of global warming. Besides increased efficiency in production, finishing, and recycling, this achieves a more responsible handling of the raw material and waste products.


LANXESS received the award in the category “Environmentally-friendly products and services” for an innovative technology developed for the recycling of residues from the leather manufacturing process.


Sebastian  Röhrig

Sebastian Röhrig
Head of Corporate Responsibility

Phone: +49 221 8885 1099

Fax: +49 221 8885 1769

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