LOCAL ANDEAN SUPPLY CHAIN
Check out our latest posts related to our Local Andean Supply Chain:
The centralized supply chain of Alta Andina results in less environmental damage inflicted on the planet. To quantify the reduction in environmental externalities of Alta Andina’s supply chain, an analysis was conducted on the production, manufacturing and shipping of...read more
1. Santander Colombia, to Bogotá, Colombia
Alta Andina sources our natural Andean leather solely from Curtiembres del Valle in Santander, Colombia, who produce only vegetable tanned leather. Alta Andina leather is tanned using Quebracho & Mimosa. Our leather is dyed with anilins, never finished with paint or synthetic coating. Once finished, our leather is sent to a family owned leather manufacturer, PyP, in Bogotá, Colombia.
2. Bogotá, Colombia to the US.
Alta Andina exports our finished product directly from Bogotá to the United States for sale.
That’s why we call our leather Natural Andean leather it is 100% sourced, processed and crafted in the Andes.
Alta Andina Total: 2,820 miles
1. Brazil to Bangladesh:
~ 9890 miles
Brazil is one of the largest exporters of beef and dairy products in the world. Local farmers turn to cattle ranching as a means of income, and as a result, biodiverse Amazonian rainforests in Brazil are deforested to raise cattle. Due to the meat industry, Brazil is also one of the biggest exporters of cattle hides, a byproduct of the meat industry.
2. Bangladesh to Europe
~ 4550 miles
Out of sight, out of mind. Developing countries bear much of the burden for making chrome tanned leather, the most polluting and toxic step in the global leather supply chain. The tanning process is therefore easier to do cheaply and quickly in countries with little to no environmental regulation, and a lack of protections for leatherworkers. For those working in tanneries, respiratory problems, rashes, and exposure to toxic cancer causing chemicals is part of everyday life. Rivers are farmland are heavily polluted, becoming dangerous to use.
3. Europe to China
~ 4,700 miles
Wet blue, or unfinished chrome tanned leather, is exported from developing countries without any real value being added to the product. Most brands prefer to paint, and add other synthetic finished to their leather at their own workshops in Europe. Because wet blue doesn’t even resemble leather, there is a lot of work to be done in order to make products look good to the consumer.
4. China to US
~ 7,230 miles
Finished leather is sent to China, where it is manufactured into cheaply built consumer goods. From China, finished products are sent back to the western hemisphere for sale.
Total: 26,370 miles
Please Note: The global leather market is complex, and while we’ve explained one highly trafficked global route, the possible routes are as extensive as the problems within it.
Colombia was dubbed the “Little Italy” of South America for their booming leather industry in an article from 1993 by The New York Times. Through the early 2000s, Colombia maintained a robust and healthy leather industry that was vertically integrated. Colombian tanneries could work with Colombian manufacturers, and and export locally produced, finished leather products, adding value and creating jobs through the whole supply chain.
Today, Italian leather machinery remains in Colombia, but the amount of tanneries and manufacturers has declined drastically. Eventually, Colombia could not compete with the low wages being offered in Asia, and the entire leather sector took an economic nose dive. While some manufacturing still exists in Colombia, the world works differently now, for better or for worse (we think for worse). When raw materials are extracted from developing countries, the value and potential for job creation is added elsewhere.
Quebracho, Mimosa and Tara are three of the most commonly used natural tannins in the world to make vegetable tanned leather, and all three can be found in the Andean region. You would think that because the Andean region has access to these tannins, it would be a considerable exporter of vegetable tanned leather. Instead, raw tannins in powder form are shipped to Europe and the United States, where most of the actual tanning of hides takes place. Exporting the tannins instead of finished vegetable tanned leather is truly a missed opportunity, as tanneries producing vegetable tanned leather create employment and development. Moreover, the manufacturing sector provides accessible, much needed job opportunities that are lost by simply exporting raw goods. The practice of extracting cheap inputs from the global south, transporting those inputs to Asia for manufacturing, then moving finished products back to the western hemisphere for sale saves brands money, but it does not take into account the carbon footprint that travel has just added to each product. The savings realized by brands in this scenario are absorbed at a massive cost to the environment.
By sourcing all our raw inputs, and manufacturing our finished product within the Andean region, Alta Andina adds value through every step of our supply chain. Moreover, we reduce every product’s overall carbon footprint drastically, by reducing the miles the product and its components have traveled before being sold. In fact, Alta Andina products have traveled less miles than a comparable product created within the global supply chain by a factor of almost 10. Alta Andina is committed to operating within our local andean supply chain.