LIFE12 ENV/ES/000568

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Contact details:

Contact person: Francisca Arán Aís
Tel: 34965395213
Fax: 34965381045
Email: aran@inescop.es

Project description:


The tanning industry treats animal skins to produce durable leather products. It generates large volumes of by-products and waste materials, which can cause significant negative environmental impacts. The advancement of European policy and legislation protecting the environment has encouraged the exploration of ways to transform tannery waste materials into valuable products.

Collagen and gelatine are important components of solid tannery wastes. The gel-forming properties of gelatine are the basis for classical applications in the food, photographic, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. However, potential new applications have also arisen, including for use as a micro-encapsulating agent. Micro-encapsulation involves covering tiny particles or droplets with a coating to provide useful new properties. It is showing potential for highly innovative technologies such as scratch-n-sniff, time-release pharmaceuticals and self-healing materials.

INESCOP works on satisfying industry needs regarding applied research on the development and implantation of new materials and technologies, including micro-encapsulation. Laboratory trials made by INESCOP have demonstrated that an optimisation of the extracting conditions of collagen and gelatine from tanning waste is necessary to obtain the specific properties suitable to their use as shell-forming biopolymer of microcapsules.


The main objective of the LIFE MICROTAN project is to demonstrate, on a semi-industrial scale, the technical, environmental and financial feasibility of the isolation of protein products - collagen and gelatine - with specific properties from tannery solid wastes. It hopes thus to enable their valorisation as natural micro-encapsulating agents in the production of active materials with functional properties.

The project aims to design, construct and operate a demonstration plant for the treatment of solid tannery wastes from SMEs located in the countries participating in the project. It will develop a procedure for the optimum recovery of collagen and gelatine with the required properties for use in micro-encapsulation. It hopes to recover as much untanned waste as possible, with the non-collagenic fraction sent for composting.

LIFE MICROTAN aims to demonstrate the production of microcapsules from the collagen and gelatine obtained in the demonstration plant and thus show the feasibility of the valorisation of this industrial by-product. It will conduct environmental and economic assessments of the potential of new products made from these former waste materials.

Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results:

  • Identification of the best conditions for extracting collagen and gelatine from solid tannery wastes;
  • Construction of a demonstration plant able to treat at least 50 kg/day of tanneries waste;
  • Obtention of collagen and gelatine with the specific properties for use as shell-forming biopolymer or microcapsules;
  • Valorisation of 15% of untanned solid waste generated by tanneries;
  • Economic benefits from reduced waste transportation and valorisation of the collagen and gelatine by-products in new niche markets; and
  • Environmental benefits from a reduced volume of waste from tanneries and a 10% reduction in waste transportation.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Leather and Footwear
Waste - Industrial waste


by-product‚  industrial waste‚  waste use‚  leather industry

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Asociación de Investigación para la Industria del Calzado y Conexas (INESCOP)
Type of organisation Professional organisation
Description INESCOP is the Technological Institute for Footwear and Related Industries. A non-profit organisation, it develops scientific and technical activities of interest to the Spanish footwear and related industries, including the tannery sector.
Partners C.G.S. di Coluccia Michele & C. sas, Italy


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/ES/000568
Duration 01-NOV-2013 to 31-OCT -2016
Total budget 793,816.00 €
EU contribution 396,908.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Poster "Recovery of tannery wastes for functional microen ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: Book "From leather waste to functional leather" (3.12 M ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report


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