HERMANN OAK LEATHER CO. ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT
Our company philosophy is to provide a safe environment for both our employees and our community. Not only do we strive to comply with all current federal and state environmental regulations, but we also anticipate future requirements. We continually invest our time and money in both the technology and machinery needed to accomplish these goals. We cherish our environment and are working to preserve it for your children and ours.
U.S. environmental laws are among the most stringent in the world. We work diligently to comply with all environmental laws and regulations, both national and local. We file 11 major yearly reports and over 130 logs per year with six different governmental agencies. The cost of this compliance and of cleaning our wastewater is 5% of our selling price, an amount that is passed on to you and your customers, and for which we thank you. Most other tanners have closed or left for foreign shores with little or no environmental controls or costs. We have not, choosing instead to produce here in the U.S. while complying with our laws.
Our philosophy is to treat both suppliers and regulators as we would our customers. This is difficult at times, yet yields rewards in the end. Our local regulators trust us enough to allow self-monitoring in many cases, telling us they wished all businesses acted like us. We believe in being out ahead of new environmental laws. When the HazCom Law was published, we were the first to implement it, and large chemical companies in town adopted our model.
Our leather is the old style "vegetable tannage," so named to denote its organic (plant based) origins. Prior to 1990, 95% of all leather was tanned this way, though it is now less than 5%. The raw materials used in this process are primarily organic in nature. Our largest used chemicals are tannins from tree bark (made by boiling the bark in the water, just as tea and coffee are made, and a chemical present in any stream in forested areas), limestone (for removing the hair, and also used for adjusting pH in both drinking water and municipal wastewater systems), and oils (from fish and animals). The organic nature of our leather means that it is the most biodegradable of all leathers.
Our Heavy Native Steer hides come from the major U.S. beef packing houses, where the cattle are processed under strict USDA supervision in the most humane way possible. While we respect the views of those opposed to the harvesting of animals for food, the current state of humanity includes protein in its diet. The hide taken from the cattle is the wrapper, an item that has no value if not processed into leather. Like a shipping box, it would be sent to the landfill if not for the tanning industry converting the hide into one of the mankind's oldest and most widely used fabrics. Since the hide accounts for only 5% of the value of the steer , it has essentially no effect on the number of cattle raised for beef. The price of hides has both doubled and halved over the years, with no change in the number of cattle grown or the supply of hides. This is why hides are termed a byproduct of the meat industry.
Our leathers are "naked," being either natural or aniline dyed (like stained wood). We use almost no pigment (paint) finishes. At most, our leathers will have a wax finish. Not only is this environmentally friendly, it also leaves the naturally warm brown hues of the leather to show through, like a piece of mahogany wood. Vegetable leather is the most beautiful of all leathers in its natural state.
As a sidenote, all physical products produced in our modern society involve use of chemicals. Most basic chemicals are present in small amounts throughout the world, are often critical to plant, animal and human health, and are termed "micronutrients." Our bodies require small amounts of iron, etc. When chemicals are concentrated, they can be injurious to living organisms, and are thus termed "toxic." Salt consumed in volume is highly toxic and will kill a person by desiccating the stomach. Drinking too much water will kill a person by causing electrolyte imbalance in the brain that leads to "water poisoning." All of these chemicals are critical for life, just in proper concentrations.
Our job as responsible stewards to make leather in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. This is what we work diligently to accomplish, so that future generations may also enjoy our world.