The Pakistan Leather Industry (LEATHER) About TED Categories and Clusters CASE NUMBER: 309 CASE MNEMONIC: LEATHER CASE NAME: Pakistan’s Leather Industry A IDENTIFICATION 1. The Issue The rampant discharge of untreated effluents tanneries is a growing problem in Pakistan’s leather industry. Pakistani exports of tanned leather is on the increase following a decline of leather production in the developed world due to more stringent environmental controls. The increase of tanneries in Pakistan is causing severe environmental degradation as the untreated effluent used in the tanning process is released into nearby water eservoirs and the sea.
In addition, air pollution is on the rise with the tanneries burning residuals (i. e. hair) from the tanning process into the atmosphere. Due to a need for foreign exchange, the national government is encouraging the growth of tanneries by offering these industries export rebates while at the same time lagging on implementing the sparse existing governmental environment regulations in leather tanning. The combination of an increasing demand for the product and a lack of government regulation is exacerbating whatever fragile balance existed between the Pakistani leather trade and the environment.
. Description The relationship between the Pakistani leather trade and the environment is being strained by a growing demand for the product in the world and ignorance of environmental problems resulting from the tanning process. A one noted Pakistani news journalist commented, “The tanning industry is notorious for its heavy pollution through effluents containing organic and inorganic matter, dissolved and suspended solids, accompanied by requirements of high oxygenic demand and having toxic metal salt residues… these tanneries discharge effluents without any reatment into water reservoirs and the sea. “(1) Often, the tanneries are located in industrial areas within Pakistan that contain a large percentage of the population. With scarce land resources, the pollution is affecting large numbers of people. While the effluent contaminates the water supply on the land, it also pollutes the sea. This pollution in turn affects the food supply for the population. Moreover, much of the country is subjected to the direct air pollution caused by burning the tannery residuals into the open atmosphere.
All of these forms of pollution are having detrimental effects upon the health of Pakistanis. The primary pollutants that leather tanning in Pakistan creates are heavy metals (chromium, cadium, etc. ), various organic chemicals, and acids. The Pakistani government recently tested the effluent runoff from leather tanneries in Pakistan and verified that the discharges were toxic. The sample of tannery effluent contained . 30 copper milligrams per liter, . 15 cadmium milligrams per liter, 7 zinc milligrams per liter, 1. 14 nickel milligrams per liter, and 1. lead milligrams per liter. (2) These levels were almost all well above the suggested standard for toxic substance concentrations in effluent. Very few of the tanneries have any type of waste treatment facility and this runoff is released into the nearest drain (most likely an open one) or body of water such as the sea or a river. The effluent is uncontrolled by any process treatment, waste recycling, or end-of-pipe treatment. Leather tannery discharge, combined with mangrove destruction and over-fishing, are contributing to a sharp decrease in shrimp production.
The mangroves–whose leaf litter is a major source of nutrients–provide a diverse habitat for a complex and interdependent community of invertebrates, fish, birds, and reptiles. (3) In addition, almost 90 percent of tropical marine species seek shelter in the mangroves for one stage of their life cycles. The loss of the commercially important shrimp in Pakistan is having a devastating effect on the fishing industry, which is partially dependent on the shrimp supply. Shrimp exports are an important foreign exchange earner for the fishing industry and Pakistan as a whole.
Moreover, the leather tannery operations near Peshawar are polluting the Kabul river and threatening its use for domestic and irrigation purposes as a freshwater fishery. (4) Although the majority of the leather tanneries are centered around Karachi and have negatively affected the coastal area, the other factories located further inland near rivers are having just as devastating effects. This pollution is having a particularly costly environmental effect on the Pakistani government’s attempt to encourage private freshwater fisheries in order to combat rampant overfishing along the coastline.
Due to the increase in river pollution from the tanneries, and therefore tainting the available water resources for the fishponds, the project to alleviate the strain being place on the coastal marine life is not likely to be a success. The leather industry in Pakistan is continuing to grow. In fact, the overall bulk of industrialization still lies ahead and it is expected that industry will double in 10 years and then double again. (5) The leather tanneries will no doubt be a part of this burgeoning trend.
As long as there is a profit to be made in the arena, new factories–small or large–will continue to start up. In 1990 the leather sector jumped to become the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country by contributing 10. 41 percent toward the total export revenue. (6) The increase in tanned leather exports (not even including leather garments) from 1990-1995 alone is astounding. The leather products industry increased its amount of exports from $271 million USD in the 1990-1991 fiscal year to $349 million USD in 1994-95! 7) The impetus behind the increase in tanneries in Pakistan is a rising world demand for tanned leather. Indeed, a Pakistani journalist explains that “while the production of tanneries in the developed countries has grossly come down due to either closure of tanneries or the leather produced there has become too expensive due to strict environment control laws, the developed countries have become more and more dependent on the supply of lather from the developing countries… ainly due to the violation of even basic civic laws in the developing countries whereby the tanners discharge all the effluent without any treatment … Pakistan is no exception. “(8) This problem is immediately apparent when one researches the limited body of environmental guidelines for leather tanneries and the lack of enforcement of any existing environmental legislation. Paradoxically, the national government–in seeking to increase government revenue and employment opportunities–is encouraging the growth of the leather tanning industry with export rebates.
This policy of encouraging the growth of the leather industry with little regulation is compounding the environmental problem in Pakistan. Although some NGOs and concerned citizens are working to raise awareness of the dangers of these policies, little is being done to control the situation. Until Pakistan is forced to adhere to international norms for pollution control in its domestic leather tanneries, the situation will likely worsen at the expense of the average Pakistani citizen in terms of a declining quality of life. 3. Related Cases
See MINIMATA See HONGKONG See TANTALUM See BALTIC See BAIKAL Key Words (1): Environmental Problem Pollution Sea [POLS] (2): Industrial Category Leather [LEATH] (3): Forum Pakistan 4. Draft Author: Theresa Augustus (May, 1996) B. LEGAL Clusters 5. Discourse and Status: INPROGress The Pakistani state, while at the same time needing to promote industry in the country, is the only entity that can formulate the strict environment protection laws and ensure effective implementation of these laws at the local level.
However, due to the leather industries prominent position in Pakistan’s export industry, the national government has instead offered incentives– such as a rebates on the export of leather and leather products, duty-free import of raw hides and skins for re-export after value- addition, and export refund scheme on export of leather footwear– to bolster the leather industry with very little environmental guidance. (9) These incentives are increasing the profit margin of the leather industry and encouraging more operations to set up shop–without the environmental controls.
By falsely inflating the profit margin for such leather tanning operations, however, the government has created that much more of a difficult task in inevitably mandating the installation of waste-treatment equipment. The strong leather industry is currently still in a position to lobby strongly against such increased costs. NGOs and other concerned citizens are trying to work with the Pakistani government and the Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) to establish some environmental safeguards. Although the PTA has reportedly agreed to establish effluent treatment facilities, there has been very little progress.
There are currently very few, if any, waste treatment centers. Finally, there is one organization, the Pakistan Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) which does R&D on leather technologies, such as chemical research. 6. Forum and Scope: Pakistan and UNILATeral 7. Decision Breadth: 1 8. Legal Standing: Law C. GEOGRAPHIC Clusters 9. Geographic Locations a. Continental Domain: Asia b. Geographic Site: South Asia c. Geographic Impact: Pakistan 10. Sub-National Factors: YES
In addition to the need for national environmental legislation on the leather industry, local laws could be promulgated as well to combat the growing tannery effluent problem. In fact, certain industrial areas are suffering greater environmental damage and would benefit from local legislation. For example, in Karachi, the Korangi Industrial Area has the largest number of tanneries working in that sector and is the most polluted area with “open drains and effluent being discharged without any treatment. “(10) Although national regulations need to be put in effect, it is often left up to the state enforcement agencies.
In addition, there needs to be some attention given to the differing circumstances of each region, which would suggest some form of state/region legislation as well. For example, it would be far more effective to address the local tannery pollution problems at the local level, given adequate support to such enforcement by the national government. Therefore, more attention should be place on straightening some of the state agencies in order to effectively address the leather tannery effluent dilemma. 11. Type of Habitat: TEMPerate D. Trade Filters 12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD] 3. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDirect 14. Relation of Measure to Impact: a. Directly Related to Product: YES Leather [LEATH] b. Indirectly Related to Product: NO c. Not Related to Product: NO d. Related to Process: YES Pollution Sea [POLLS] 15. Trade Product Identification: Leather Mostly intermediate (finished leather) and some final product type (garments. ) The Pakistani government is attempting to increase its production (and subsequent export) of the final product types in order to increase profits in such a value-added sector.
However, this will probably only increase demand for the intermediate product in the country and thereby increase the pollution created by the tanneries. 16. Economic Data Industry Output: $628 million USD (fiscal year 1993-1994), 5 % of GNP with an annual growth rate of about 4. 7% in its exports. (11) $621 million USD (fiscal year 1992-1993), 9% of Pakistan’s total exports. (12) Employment: 200,000 persons(13) According to the Leather Industry Development Organization, there are 526 tanneries in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Kasur,
Faisalabad, Peshawar, Gujranwala, and Sialkot, with the majority of leather production taking place in medium-size tanneries. The leather industry as a whole–including both tanned leather and leather garments–is an important foreign exchange earner. As mentioned previously, the industry was the second largest foreign exchange earner in 1990. The leather tanning industry produces about 6 million hides and 36 million skins annually. (14) The leather industry has slowly increased since Pakistan’s independence. Following partition from India, there were few tanneries and hides and skins were imported.
However, the leather industry today has developed into an indigenous industry that is the second biggest export-oriented industry in the manufacturing sector and third in the overall exports of Pakistan. (15) Although the production of hides and skins used in the tanning industry– cattle, goat, sheep, and buffalo–has been steadily increasing, the supply has not been able to keep up with demand and some importation continues. To alleviate the increased costs of the importation and supplement the local production, the government has currently allowed wet-blue (unfinished) and skins to be mported duty-free. 17. Degree of Competitive Impact: LOW 18. Industry Sector: TEXTile 19. Exporter and Importer: Pakistan and Many Case Exporter: Leather Industry, Pakistan $628 million USD (fiscal year 1993-1994), 5 % of GNP with an annual growth rate of about 4. 7% in its exports. (16) $621 million USD (fiscal year 1992-1993), 9% of Pakistan’s total exports. (17) Case Importer: Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Korea, Germany, France, UK, Holland, USA, and Hungary. (18) Other markets that are emerging as importers include China, Thailand, the Middle East, and South Africa. E. ENVIRONMENT Cluster 20.
Environment Problem Type: POLlution Sea The leather tanneries use highly toxic chemicals which are released into water reservoirs and the sea–untreated–during the tanning process. These chemicals include copper, cadmium, zinc, and lead. In addition, these tanneries burn residuals from the tanneries which pollutes the atmosphere. 21. Species Information 22. Impact and Effect: [HIGH] and [REGULatory] 23. Urgency and Lifetime: Low and 100s of years 24. Substitutes: Synthetic The tanneries could benefit from R&D in order to not only cut down on polluting effluents, but also how to recycle many of the discharges.
In addition, effluent treatment facilities need to be established in order to limit the environmental damage caused by the direct dumping of untreated effluent. F. OTHER Factors 25. Culture: YES The polluting aspects of the tanneries inevitably hit the poorest the hardest. Traditionally, in Pakistan, the “lower- caste” (poorer) people work in the tanneries, which is strenuous and labor-intensive. These jobs have been handed down in the family for generations. Moreover, in a populous and developing country such as Pakistan, people often compete for these jobs and are forced to put up with dangerous working conditions.
In addition, the pollutants are often released in areas that will affect the people with the least political power. The lower-caste inhabitants of these areas are affected by the effluent on a daily basis. 26. Human Rights: [YES] The untreated effluent released by leather tanneries impinges on the health and quality of life of Pakistanis. By releasing the untreated effluent into the water supply, citizens not only drink the toxic chemicals, but the effluent affects the food supply chain as well. In addition, the increase in air pollution has repercussions to health problems, specifically leading to lung illness.
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