Staff and community
We want to be an excellent place to work. We provide a great deal of training to our employees ourselves, passing down the art and craft of leather making. We offer all our employees accident insurance and extensive occupational healthcare services, and our employee wellbeing and workplace ergonomics are regularly monitored by our occupational healthcare provider. We also offer our employees great recreational benefits.
We support a culture of doing things together and consider diversity to be our greatest asset. Transparency and collaboration across different cultures and partners come naturally to us. We employ people of 12 different nationalities and do business in 25 different countries.
We want to play an active role in our community. We regularly sponsor local clubs and associations, and we also make a donation to a different nature conservation project every year.
We believe that genuinely ethical leather products are produced by happy and highly skilled employees in a safe working environment.
Green values and sustainable development
The life span of products made from real leather is much longer than that of products made from artificial leather. We are firm believers in maximising resource efficiency in all our work. We make full use of our raw materials, tanning all hides suitable for leather production and using everything else to make chews and treats for dogs. We use energy, water and raw materials as efficiently and ecologically as possible in all our production. We also invest in new technology for our machinery and implement the principles of continuous improvement in our production design.
Leather can be tanned in many ways, the most common of which are vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. Vegetable tanning is a method that has been used for thousands of years, and getting it right requires an in-depth knowledge of this traditional craft. Combining the craft with modern production planning and control has allowed us to reduce our environmental footprint.
We only make chrome-tanned leather for specific needs: when the final product requires an exceptionally high resistance to heat or water. We approach the chrome tanning process in a highly responsible manner, precipitating the chromium out after the tanning process and delivering it to a certified refinery in solid form. To ensure production quality, we regularly test our tanned hides using an independent laboratory.
When done with great care and skill, both tanning methods are safe for workers as well as the environment. Ecological leather is the result of sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
Specific actions for the good of the environment
- We do not use coal or heavy oil. We only use green electricity in our production and endeavour to minimise energy consumption in all our activities; we even recently switched to LED lighting in our factory.
- We collect and treat all water used in our production process in our own water treatment plant. Our work is subject to an environmental permit and is supervised by the local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, a governmental entity tasked with promoting regional competitiveness, well-being and sustainable development, along with helping curb climate change.
- We use only water-soluble finishing chemicals, and all the chemical substances we use are REACH compliant.
- We use eco-labelled and biodegradable packing materials whenever possible.
- We collect all our organic sludge and solid waste, both of which are converted into biogas in a nearby facility. The biogas from our waste powers biogas-fuelled vehicles to provide a total of almost 200,000 greener kilometres, reducing the use of fossil fuel. The carbon dioxide emissions of biogas as a traffic fuel are calculated to be zero, just like those of other renewable fuels.
- We make purchases from local businesses whenever possible.
- We compensate for our environmental impact with our own carbon sink: the forest land that we own. How we manage the forest land we own is one of our contributions to preserving the environment.
The ethics of leather
Our raw material is real leather. In our production, we only use excess hides that would otherwise go to waste.
We use elk hides to make Kaarna Elk Leather and Kokkolan Pet Products. We buy the hides directly from hunting clubs, which regulate the elk population in accordance with the hunting quotas determined by the Finnish Wildlife Agency to keep the population at the target level.
In Finland, our hunting tradition requires that hunters treat their quarry with the utmost respect. The Finnish Hunting Act also expressly states that it is illegal to cause animals unnecessary pain and suffering. The hunters keep the meat for food, but processing the hides is generally too much work for individual hunters or hunting clubs to handle. If we did not recover the raw hides, they would be left to rot in the forest.
The elk is a wild animal that does not need us humans: it lives its life roaming free in the vast wilderness. Hunting animals from a car or any other vehicle is strictly forbidden, so hunters also move about in the forest by foot. Our elk hides are sourced in way that respects the environment and preserves the natural landscape.
We only produce cow leather from the side streams of dairy and meat production: no cows are farmed for our leather production. We source our cow hides from local slaughterhouses that have their own animal welfare guidelines for farms.