LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol 7 Goes Live

Leather fabric off cuts

The latest version of the Leather Working Group’s flagship audit standard, the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit Protocol 7, became mandatory on 22 August 2021. Representing a major evolution, P7 provides a more holistic assessment of a tannery’s performance, with more robust criteria across the board and newly added requirements for social responsibility, effluent treatment, material traceability, and chemical management.

First published in February 2021, Protocol 7 was refined during a period of public consultation and replaced by P7.1 on 6 July 2021. P7.1 replaced the existing Protocol 6.7 as of 22 August 2021, becoming mandatory for all audits of leather manufacturing facilities.

While continuing to address many critical environmental, social, governance, and compliance issues, our new standard goes further than ever before to incorporate traceability, chemical management, social responsibility, governance and health and safety into its medal rating criteria. It also demands more from our members in terms of managing energy and water usage, air emissions and effluent discharges.

“Protocol 7 is not just a natural evolution of our existing auditing standard, but rather a revolution in what we consider to be a responsible leather manufacturing facility. We set out to tackle major challenges across the leather industry, with the ultimate goal of providing brands a more secure supply chain and giving consumers assurances they need,” said Christina Trautmann, Programme Manager of the Leather Working Group.

“Protocol 7 will set a unique and unmatched bar in terms of providing an all-encompassing surety of supply for those who source from accredited leather manufacturers under our program,” expressed Ian Scher, Chair of the LWG Executive Committee and VP of Procurement at PrimeAsia.

Key changes under Protocol 7 include:

  • Chemical Management: Previously a standalone assessment, the LWG Chemical Management Module has been fully integrated into Protocol 7, and is now aligned with the ZDHC MRSL and AFIRM risk based RSL for leather.
  • Effluent Treatment: Introduction of stricter requirements for the treatment of effluent and differentiate our criteria between direct discharge from on-site effluent treatment plants and indirect discharge from central and municipal effluent treatment plants.
  • Social Responsibility: A major expansion of scope and recognition of third-party social audit certifications within the LWG Audit Protocol for the first time. The impact of social responsibility on the LWG Audit will increase in future iterations of the audit standard, to reflect the critical importance of the topic.
  • Traceability: Traceability requirements have seen significant changes, with the existing section now contributing to the audit score, and the addition of further additional due diligence measures to address deforestation risk. P7 also introduces a more nuanced approach to consider different levels of traceability that are theoretically achievable, depending on the region, farming practices, and more.