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To compare the greenhouse gas emissions of latex and leather, a litterature search was conducted. Google Scholar was searched using the key words ”lca leather” and ”lca latex”. Two studies were deemed relevant, as they are both life cycle assessments (LCA), published in peer reviewed journals and of a recent date.

Study Product Emission factor
Jawjit, W., Pavasant, P., & Kroeze, C. (2015). Latex 61 kg CO2e/tonne of latex
Chen, K. W., Lin, L. C., & Lee, W. S. (2014).  Leather 73 kg CO2e/m2 of leather
(9,730 kg CO2e/tonne of leather)


To compare the two emission factors, they must be converted to similar units, as the emission factor for latex is measured in tonnes, while the emission factor for leather is measured in m2. According to Joseph, K., & Nithya, N. (2009); 100 m2 of leather is equal to 750kg. Using this number, the emission factor for leather can be converted to the unit tonnes, using the following calculation:

73 kg CO2e/m2∗100=7,300 kg CO2e/100 m2 7,300 kg

CO2e/750 kg leather = 9.73 kg CO2e/kg leather 9.73 kg

CO2e/kg of leather∗1000=9,730 kg CO2e/tonne of leather

Having converted the emission factor for leather, into the same unit as the emission factor for latex, we can now compare the two. This shows that the total greenhouse gas emissions from one tonne of leather are 160 times higher, than from one tonne of latex.
There are a number of weaknesses related to this calculation, which could be improved to yield a result of higher certainty. These include the fact, that the thickness of leather, has been shown to dramatically alter the results of the total emissions per square meter of leather. This means that the emissions from leather, may be double the amount of the above result (Chen, K. W et al. 2014). The need to convert from square meter leather, to tonnes of leather, also adds additional uncertainty. Unfortunately this could not be avoided, as there are no studies available, where latex is measured in CO2e/m2. Both latex and leather can also be produced in a number of ways, which varies greatly in greenhouse gas intensivity.
Despite the uncertainties descibed above, it seems likely that the emissions from leather are much higher than those from latex. Whereas latex is a plant-based product with the ability to sequester CO2, leather is produced from cattle, which are related to high GHG emissions.



Alexander Damkær Hansen
Msc. Environmental Biology