PODEBA - Use of poultry dejection for the bating phase in the tanning cycle

LIFE10 ENV/IT/000365

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Alice DALL'ARA
Tel: +39 0546 678550
Fax: +39 0546 678501
Email: alice.dallara@enea.it

Project description:


Key environmental regulations concerning Europe’s tanning industry include the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (96/61/EC), the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the REACH Regulation. In order to maintain competitiveness in the global market place, European leather producers must exploit raw materials more efficiently and eliminate from industrial processes the negative impacts of waste materials (hides and skins). The raw materials required for tannery processes generate waste that currently has a significant negative environmental and economic impact. However, tannery by-products could be reused/recycled or converted into higher value secondary raw materials for other industries and the agricultural sector. Accordingly, EU tanners are adjusting and modernising their production methods, with investments in environmental protection, waste reduction, recycling and the recuperation of secondary raw materials. The impact of environmental regulation on the leather tanning industry is considerable. The industry estimates that environmental protection costs amount to 5% of all operational costs. Moreover, in accordance with the river basin management plans of the Water Framework Directive, tanning companies must take into account measures to reduce water pollution and adopt concrete actions to maintain the good ecological status of watercourses.


The PODEBA project set out to demonstrate the eco-sustainability of using poultry manure for the ‘bating phase’ of leather tanning – a process whereby the hides for high quality leathers are treated with enzymes to soften them. Anticipated environmental benefits included:

  • Recycling and reuse – an innovative application of a waste (poultry manure) normally associated with high environmental problems in management and disposal;
  • Significant reductions in the negative environmental impacts from tannery wastewater by using a natural product instead of traditional chemical products in the ‘bating’ process;
  • The application of an innovative treatment able to deodorise the poultry manure;
  • Use of recycled natural waste instead of industrial chemical products, with savings in costs and energy and water consumption;
  • The application of innovative formulations of polyfunctional substrates for regulation purposes with active principles that enable controlled release; and
  • Production of high-end (fashion) leather products with anti-microbial, self-cleaning, biological, eco-friendly properties.

  • Results

    The PODEBA project outcomes confirmed a successful treatment for creating deodorised poultry manure (DPM P120) and results also confirmed that DPM P120 could act as a new chemical bating agent in an industrial symbiosis process. DPM P120 was shown to offer an effective substitute to industrial chemicals and use of this innovative compound required less energy and natural resources.

    Tests were carried out at different production scales (laboratory, semi-industrial, pre-industrial). The project team were also able to demonstrate the technical and the economical viability of DPM P120 at a potential future industrial production scale. Overall analysis showed that the application of DPM P120 as a softening agent could reduce a tannery’s environmental impacts during the whole life cycle of the system.

    Quantifiable environmental benefits included:

    • Odour emissions - Ammonia emissions are reduced by 96% both in dry (at the poultry farm) and in wet conditions (at the tannery). Sulphur compounds are reduced by 90% (wet conditions);
    • Wastewaters (residual baths resulting from the de-liming/bating process) - Conductivity is reduced by 40%, COD by 42%, BOD by 30%, TKN by 46%, NH4+ by 48%, and S-- by 80%;
    • Energy and resource consumption - For each tonne of DPM applied to the bating cycle, the exploitation of 0.3-0.6 tonnes of ammonium sulphate is prevented, providing a net energy saving of 30%;
    • Wastes - It was calculated that the substitution of 50% of the common industrial bating agents with DPM P120 could imply a re-use up to the 3% of the national production of poultry manure;
    • Global warming potential parameters - Abiotic Depletion is reduced by 99% (ADP elements) and 70% (ADP fossil). Eutrophication Potential (EP) is reduced by 47%. Global Warming Potential (GWP 100 years) is reduced by 47%. Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP) is reduced by 25%.

    Laboratory and pre-industrial tests on the technical and physical characterisation of the leather treated with DPM P120 demonstrated that their quality complies with the recommended values for footwear manufacturing and with the Eco-Label standards. The samples obtained have an adequate appearance, fullness and firmness, with a soft and pleasant feel. The quality of the goods produced is appreciable and exactly like the commercial products.

    The test done at the pre-industrial scale demonstrated that the designed products have competitive production costs, thus they could be soon ready for the market, sensibly enhancing the transferability and direct impacts of the project results.

    Annual savings of around €300 000 in Italy and €600 000 in Europe are predicted if DPM P120 is used to replace only 10% of the common industrial bating agents. A cost of €0.46 per kg was estimated which represents a reduction of €5.9 per tonne of salted leather with respect to the industrial product, entailing an economic saving by 30.9%

    Project consortium members are working on the possibility to promote the project’s results as Best Available Techniques (BAT), according to the EU Recommendation no. 2013/179/EU ('Recommendation on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations'), supported in this process by UNIC (Unione Nazionale Industria Conciaria – National Union of the Tannery Industry).


Environmental issues addressed:


Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Industry-Production - Leather and Footwear
Waste - Agricultural waste


research project‚  waste use‚  leather industry‚  manure‚  alternative material

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie,l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile
Type of organisation Public enterprise
Description ENEA is the Italian National agency for new technologies, Energy and sustainable economic development. Its technical unit, UTTMATF, is involved in the fields of ceramics, new technologies and engineering. Its activities are related to new technologies and the development of innovative materials for biomass recycling.
Partners COLORTEX Spa, Italy AMEK scrl, Italy INESCOP, Spain


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/IT/000365
Duration 01-JAN-2012 to 30-JUN -2014
Total budget 1,200,668.00 €
EU contribution 586,387.00 €
Project location Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Lazio(Italia)


Read more:

Brochure Project leaflet
Poster "La valorizzazione e l'uso della pollina nella con ...
Poster "A methodology to assess poultry dejection deodori ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Manual for the use of deodorised poultry manure i ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Slides Presentation "PODEBA: an industrial symbiosis case" (2.14 MB)
Slides Presentation "Uso di deiezioni avicole nella fase di macerazion ...
Video link PODEBA video (10')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version