Cortina Leathers Genuine Leathers are the most sustainable bio-based textile ever made.
Real Leather is the Earth-friendly Choice

Timeless and enduring, genuine leather’s appeal is undeniable; it is also the most sustainable choice for environmental stewardship. 

In every decision we make, Cortina Leathers considers the earth we all share. We continually evaluate and adjust our business approaches to ensure we are operating in a way that protects our environment and each other. 

Cortina Leathers Leads the Leather Industry in Sustainability

Cortina Leathers has consistently led the industry in making changes to reduce the environmental footprint of our finishing facility in Ohio, and we are continuously improving.
  • We use only water-based, solvent-free chemicals which emit less than 10% of the permissible EPA VOC’s + HAPs,
  • We use pre-trimmed hides to finish leather in our U.S. facility reducing carbon footprint up to 10%. See the full benefit explanation in blue.
  • We pioneered the use of chrome-free leathers in the U.S.
  • Scrap leather is sent to companies to produce small leather goods, eliminating leather waste.
  • We offer return shipping for our sampling materials.
  • Our manufacturing facility is powered by 100% green electric supply (blend of solar/national wind/national hydro), and 100% green natural gas through carbon offsets.
  • We re-use the heat from our manufacturing equipment to heat the manufacturing facility, reducing our energy use.
  • Our plant uses high-efficiency lighting, reducing energy usage for lighting by 80%.
  • We offer dedicated parking and chargers for electric vehicles.
  • Our on-site waste-water treatment operation is state-of-the-art, consistently exceeding permit standards.
  • We recycle all paper, plastics and packaging materials.
  • We use recycled content shipping materials where possible.

Using pre-trimmed hides further enhances the sustainability profile of Cortina Leathers' genuine leather.

Beginning in 2024, the majority of hides Cortina uses to manufacture finished leather at our U.S. facility will have their unusable edges pre-trimmed prior to tanning. Pre-trimming is costly, but it has important benefits for our environment: it reduces the amount of energy, water and materials needed for the tanning and finishing processes, reduces overall shipping weight (reducing CO2), and minimizes waste.

Another important result is that the un-tanned trimmings remain 100% natural and rather than ending up in landfills, they can be up-cycled into popular commodities such as beauty products (collagen), pharmaceuticals, and rawhide dog bones. Everyone wins, including Mother Earth and her favorite furry friend.

What does this mean for our customers? When designers and furniture companies specify leathers finished by Cortina in the U.S., you are reducing your clients’ carbon footprint up to 10% and are not paying for the edge portions that your upholsterers cannot use. Win-Win!

Leather is Naturally Sustainable
Leather is an Upcycled Product

100% of the hides used for large-scale upholstery leather manufacturing are a by-product of the food industry—not a single bovine is raised for its hide. Currently 30% of hides are not up-cycled into leather for use in upholstery, shoes, garments, etc., and are thus disposed of in landfills. Studies are being conducted now which show that landfilling of unused hides from the food industry is worse for the environment long-term than the processes used to tan and finish the hides into leather.

Just as prehistoric humans hunted for meat but used the hides for shelter and clothing, we save this valuable material from the waste stream and produce a naturally beautiful, versatile, and incredibly durable and long-lasting product.

Leather Lasts and Lasts

The longevity of leather is unmatched by any other upholstery material. In harsh applications such as commercial aviation, leather lasts 4 to 6 times longer than fabric, vinyl and faux leather (polyurethane), dramatically reducing the amount of upholstery material and re-upholstery expense needed over time. Considering this when purchasing furniture can also help reduce the mass quantities of "fast furniture" added to our landfills.

Leather is Natural & Sustainable

Leather is an organic, natural product and as such is biodegradable within 50 years. Until humans stop eating meat, leather will remain a fully sustainable, renewable resource.

Substitutes for leather such as vinyl (Poly Vinyl Chloride or PVC) and faux leathers (polyurethanes) sold under the names such as vegan leather, pleather, eco leather, bonded leather, etc. are considered more hazardous to the environment at each stage in their lifecycle. These leather-alternative fabrics are all misleadingly marketed by manufacturers in the plastics industry and are derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.

Currently, the amount of plant-based material used to make alternative products is usually less than 5%—the remaining 95% is vinyl or plastic needed to build strength. Leather substitutes are man-made in a chemical-intensive process using hazardous chemicals such as phthalates as plasticizers, and they can release harmful toxins. Unlike genuine leather, at the end of their short useful life, they are not easily biodegradable, lasting hundreds of years in landfills or as micro-plastics in our waterways and oceans causing incalculable harm to all biological beings including humans.

While no one has yet created a large scale, 100% plant-based alternative fabric that looks, feels, and performs like leather, we at Cortina Leathers are constantly seeking such a fabric and will offer it when it is available.

Our Certifications. Our Commitments.

Cortina Leathers has been recognized time and again by leading environmental agencies, and we are proud to strictly adhere to our corporate goal that 100% of the hides we finish are sourced from responsible tanneries. Below are a few of our achievements and goals for the future.

Certified by ISO

We are proud to announce that we expect to achieve ISO 14000:1 certification in 2020. This means we will be adhering to their framework of environmental standards and achieving challenging annual goals for reductions in environmental impacts.

Rated Gold by the Leather Working Group

95% all of the hides we finish are sourced from tanneries with a Gold Rating from the Leather Working Group (LWG). Considered the standard globally for environmental certification, the LWG rating system assesses environmental compliance, social responsibility, and tannery performance across many metrics, including: Adherence to applicable local statutory regulations, environmental management systems such as ISO 14001, avoidance of restricted materials, energy and water consumption, air and noise pollution, waste management and effluent treatment, and more.

Compliant with Eurpoean Union's REACH

Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union regulation that addresses the production and use of chemical substances and their potential impact on both human health and the environment. Cortina Leathers is compliant with REACH regulations and our U.S. and European-produced leathers do not contain substances listed on the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern or the Authorization List.

Free of Conflict Materials

Cortina Leathers products do not contain tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold. Disclosure of these conflict materials is required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Low-VOC Gold Certified

For more than two decades, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and a certification program aimed at spurring the highest level of air quality performance for interior products. Our leathers are SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified for low-VOC emissions that qualify for many building rating systems including LEED v4, BREEAM, WELL Building, and Living Building Challenge.

Striving to be Future-Fit

Challenging to achieve, but right to do, we are committed to modeling our business after Future-Fit’s 23 benchmarks, including: obtaining energy from renewable sources, management of natural resources, community health, and employee health. To see all 23 benchmarks, visit the Future-Fit website.

Clear of California Propostion 65 Content

The state of California requires manufacturers to provide a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a chemical on the Prop 65 chemical list. We are proud that after extensive testing of our leathers, they have been proven to contain no reportable levels of any chemicals listed in Prop 65, including no PFAs.

Safe Disposal of Chrome 3

Chromium 3 used in tanning is extracted and formed into nontoxic bricks for disposal in landfills. It is important to note that the Chromium 3 used by modern, responsible tanneries (where Cortina sources hides), is not the carcinogenic Chromium 6 used pre-1970.. Cortina Leathers offers both chrome and chrome-free leather.

Avoidance of Fire Retardents

In accordance with California AB 2998, we do not add fire retardant chemicals unless specified.