Hanwag and Heinen – working towards sustainability in long-lasting partnership

2017 / February / 14 / Behind the Scenes /
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anwag has been making mountain boots since 1921. That’s a fair old while. However, our partner, the Heinen tannery goes back even further. It has been producing unique and particularly high-quality leather since 1891. We’re proud of this partnership and would like to tell you more about Heinen…

The Heinen tannery has around 100 employees, making it Europe’s largest producer of upper leather for technical footwear. In addition, it remains a family-owned company. Josef Heinen and his descendants have been tanning leather in Wegberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (near the border with the Netherlands) using traditional techniques for over 100 years. But Heinen does more than just rely on tradition. The market-leading tannery is constantly introducing innovative methods.

Heinen creates leather in a high-quality, sustainable manner. Producing in Wegberg, Germany has many advantages:

  • It works exclusively with raw materials from Germany. German cattle hides are known around the world for their high quality. Heinen has a significant advantage over the competition. It has a close working relationship with all its hide merchants, being able to track from which slaughterhouses and farms the animals come from.
  • Leading international leather chemical manufacturers have their research and development centres in Germany and its neighbouring countries. This means that new innovations can be quickly and efficiently tested and put into practise.

  • Wegberg is located centrally and has excellent connections to Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam airports, as well as the ports of Hamburg and Rotterdam. In addition, Heinen are experts in logistics management.
  • Water, which is vital for the leather manufacturing process, is found in Germany in exceptional quality and quantity. Although we should point out that Heinen uses much less water than tanneries elsewhere around the world. Heinen purifies waste water in accordance with strict German and European standards before returning it to the water cycle.
  • In Germany, Heinen can ensure that all byproducts from the leather tanning process are recycled and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Despite all this efforts and improvements, chrome tanning, the process used also at the tannery in Wegberg is often criticised. However, to this day chrome tanning is the only way to produce the high-quality, water-resistant, hard-wearing and breathable leather needed to make mountain boots. Leather quality is key. To make outstanding leather, all the different production stages have to be mastered perfectly and only the highest-quality softening and fattening agents (fatliquors) and chemicals can be used. This is the only way to ensure that chrome tanning is safe for our customers and the environment.

Heinen has gone one step further and introduced the terracare® brand. terracare® leather is manufactured according to particularly strict environmental and social standards. Having received numerous awards for its energy-efficient and resource-saving production, terracare® leather is the most eco-friendly leather available for making mountain boots.

ALASKA, TATRA, BRENNER WIDE, CANYON… Hanwag uses terracare® leather in many models in its collection. The same as Heinen, Hanwag is committed to sustainable production and making environmentally-responsible products. I’m confident that both manufacturers are going to continue to influence and inspire each other in the future. And I hope that, in the long run, this kind of innovative and sustainable approach will become the rule rather than the exception in our industry.