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Leather Industry in Bangladesh

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Bangladeshi Leather Industry: An Overview of Recent Sustainable Developments
Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL, U.K. 2 Environmental and Materials Sciences, School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, Avenue Campus, Northampton, NN2 6JD, U.K.
Abstract The Government of Bangladesh has indentified the leather sector as one with considerable growth and investment potential ranked fifth in the export earning sector. Currently Bangladesh produces and exports quality bovine and ovine, caprine (buffalo and cow; sheep and goat) leathers that have a good international reputation for fine textured skins. However, the entire leather sector meets only 0.5% of the world’s leather trade worth US$75 billion. There are about 113 tanneries in Bangladesh that produce 180 million square feet of hides and skins per year. In addition there are about 30 modern shoe manufacturing plants engaged in the production of high-quality footwear, with over 2500 smaller footwear manufacturers also present in the sector. There are around 100 small-to-medium leather goods manufacturers, and a small number of niche larger manufacturers. The sector directly employs approximately 558 000 people. Most of the tanneries do not have proper effluent plants and generate 20 000m3 tannery effluent and 232 tonnes solid waste per day. Tannery liquid and solid wastes are a potential pollutant but also have a potential value. Specific technologies to convert wastes are required. These vary from crude and simple to highly sophisticated and complex. A proposed new leather park is expected to bring a clear transformation to the leather industry with a marked increase in production, product diversification and new product lines with increased sustainability of the sector. Sustainable and cleaner production will be a key issue for the development without placing burdens on the environment.

Bangladesh is a developing country with a population of about 152.5 million in a total area of 147, making it one of the most heavily populated countries of the world. Dhaka has been the capital city of Bangladesh since it achieved independence in 1971. The overall economy of Bangladesh has registered a steady improvement with more than 6% average growth during the last five years. The industrial sector has been an important contributor to the country’s GDP,1 its share standing at 28.6% in 2011.
500 450

1.1 Leather in Bangladesh Leather is the basis of one of the oldest industries in Bangladesh and plays a significant role in the national economy with a good reputation worldwide. This is an agro-based by-product industry with locally available indigenous raw materials having a potential for export development and sustained growth over the coming years. Bangladesh leather is widely known around the world for its high qualities of fine grain, uniform fibre structure, smooth feel and natural texture. Real progress in terms of product development with respect

Millions US$ Amount in Million US$

400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 20012002 20022003 20032004 Leather 20042005 20052006 20062007 20072008 20082009 Total 20092010 2010- (July to 2011 March)

Footwear Leather Products Figure1. Bangladesh's export of leather, footwear and leather goods.6


to crust and finished leather commenced in the 1990s following the ban on export of wet-blue hides from Bangladesh.2 1.2 Tanning in Bangladesh A number of tanneries took the opportunity in 1990s for the production of crust and finished leather. There are reportedly around 220 tanneries in Bangladesh but, in fact, only 113 tanneries are in effective operation, out of these 20 units are reported to be fairly large (7 units very large), around 45 units are considered of medium size and around 48 units are considered small groups as detailed in Table I.3 105 of the tanneries are positioned arbitrarily in the Hazaribagh area in Dhaka where 84 per cent of the total supply of hides and skins are processed in a highly congested area of only 29 hectares of land as in Figure 2.4

1.3 Livestock in Bangladesh Bangladesh has a fairly large livestock population to support a strong and growing tanning industry. Table II shows that cow hides account for 56% of the production, goat skins for 30% and buffalo makes up the rest.5 The current output in Bangladesh is about 200 million sq.ft. of leather annually. Apart from bovine hides, buffalo, goat and sheep; a good quantity of kangaroo hides (pickled condition/wet-blue) are imported from Australia and finished in Bangladesh, shoes are made of this kangaroo leather for export, mostly to Japan. Some ostrich leather is also imported from Australia for production of high quality and high priced bags and wallets for re-export to Australia. 1.4 Leather export performance The contribution of the leather industry to the Bangladesh economy was about US$500 million, accounting for 3% of country’s exports6 in 2010-11. Recent export trends indicate that the footwear sector (value added merchandise), is growing the fastest. Figure 1 shows that the performance with regard to footwear is increasing substantially. Further progress in this regard is expected in the years to come. Currently there are about 30 mechanized footwear companies in the country, most produce leather footwear for global export. A large number of semimechanized and non-mechanized footwear units are also operating for the domestic market. Some 5 or 6 companies produce quality leather goods which are regularly exported in appreciable volume. Export performance can be anticipated to increase in the next five years with at least 12-15% growth in turnover per annum. In the next two years the existing footwear factories are likely to export more shoes. The new capacity [expanded and new factories] that will come on stream from late 2012 will give increased growth. The Export Processing Zones (throughout Bangladesh) at present have 18 shoe and leather goods factories and there are at least seven large factories under construction. The

Figure 2. Bangladesh (inset – tannery locations).

TABLE I Structure of tanneries in Bangladesh3

Number of tanneries 7 13 45 48 Total: 113

Typical annual production capacity/tannery >5 million sq.ft 2–5 million sq.ft 40m3 / 1000kg H/S

Tannery C 9.3 Dark grey Pungent Nil 1478mg/l 3750mg/l 7530mg/l 1850mg/l 901mg/l 675mg/l >40m3 / 1000kg H/S

DOE standard for Bangladesh (Discharge to inland surface water) 6-9 Absent Absent 4.5-8mg/l 50mg/l 200mg/l 2100mg/l 150mg/l 60mg/l 2mg/l 30m3 /1000kg hides/skins (H/S)


Figure 3. Simplified flow diagram for an effluent treatment plant in Bangladesh.
TABLE VI Tannery D with effluent treatment plant (wet-blue-finishing; composite effluent)


Raw effluent

Treated effluent

DOE standard for Bangladesh (Discharge to inland surface water) 6-9 Absent Absent 4.5-8mg/l 50mg/l 200mg/l 2100mg/l 150mg/l 60mg/l 2mg/l 30m3/1000kg H/S

pH Colour Odour DO BOD5 COD TDS TSS Na Cr(total)

8.90 Blackish /dark grey Pungent Nil 370mg/l 935mg/l 3870mg/l 1800mg/l 560mg/l 150mg/l

7.30 Absent Not present 4.6mg/l 44mg/l 115mg/l 140mg/l 30mg/l 90mg/l 3mg/l

have very little knowledge about their short, medium and long term impact on humankind and the environment. Legislation must also be developed to take account of the combined effects of chemical substances. Tannery effluent in Bangladesh has reached such an alarming level that it poses a significant threat to public health and economic growth of surrounding areas.

The unplanned tanneries at Hazaribagh in Dhaka do not have supporting infrastructure facilities. Hazaribagh itself is surrounded by thickly populated localities of the city. Relocation of the tanneries to a more spacious location with appropriate infrastructure for efficient and cost effective treatment of solid and liquid wastes is an obvious need. To set up a Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) has thus become a prerequisite for the survival and growth of this vital export-oriented sector of the country. The Government of Bangladesh has decided to move the whole tannery operation to a new location of 200 acres at 20km from Dhaka city. According to the present plan, 144 acres (72%) of the land are to be developed as industrial plots. The balance, 56 acres (28%), will be utilized for infrastructure for the estate that includes a Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), disposal yard, administrative building, drainage, electricity sub-station and others. After the relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh, the project envisages relocation of tannery units from other parts of the country; and also hopes to attract fresh investment from within and outside the country for establishment of new tannery units. A total of 195 developed industrial plots in 4 categories will be created from the 200 acres of the estate as in Table VII.17

Effluent flow =…...

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