Many of the most severe problems we encounter within tanneries are those attributed to third world countries which are having immense negative environmental impact. "Leather Tanning In India: Environmental Regulations and Firms' Compliance" is an excellent paper by Ane Scholden in 2000, that we can examine to understand why these problems persist and are far more severe than those in first world countries. There are many places using greener forms of processing with regulations preventing the pollution seen in India and other countries. With all the options and their relative success, why is this solution not implemented everywhere?
The second issue is lack of education among the tanners regarding the resulting problems of their pollution. Interviews with owners repeatedly showed ignorance of the results of their process on the environment and their laborers. The belief is that because the chemicals are handled by individuals, that the chemicals can be touched, they must not be bad for the environment. This fallacy is combined with people who are accustomed to this environment. Most of the owners and workers live in the areas of the tannery and amid the pollution created, which creates as sense of expectation that the environment is the way it has always been. Small amounts of educational reform have made little difference and it is only the few new businesses who are more educated and affluent that actually recognize the problem.
|Children by a tannery pond. http://www.elaw.org/node/1179|
Ref: Scholden, Ane; 2000 FIL Working Papers, Leather Tanning in India: Environmental Regulations and Firms Compliance, http://www.cicero.uio.no/media/1677.pdf 1-83