Western brands linked to dangerous tanneries

Hazardous tanneries with workers as young as 14 supplied leather to companies that make shoes and handbags for a host of Western brands, Transparentem, a non-profit intelligence unit that investigates supply chain issues has found.

The abuses alleged are located in Hazaribagh, the hub of Bangladesh’s leather industry with more than 150 tanneries. Amid dire local environmental conditions caused by the $1 billion-a-year industry, tanneries were ordered to move from this location more than 15 years ago.

However, deadlines have passed without any consequences.

By tracking customs and business records, the report found links between the offending factories and companies such as Clarks, Coach, Kate Spade, Macy’s, Michael Kors, Sears, Steven Madden and Timberland.

Transparentem did not state that the leather ends up in American and European companies’ products, only that the manufacturers of some of those goods received it. In response to the report, most brands switched factories, banned Bangladesh leather or demanded improvements.