The industrial district of S. Croce sull ‘Arno, which extends over a radius of 10 km between the provinces of Pisa and Florence, is one of the main centres of the tanning sector at an Italian and international level. The district is a leader in the production of sole leather and leathers for major fashion brands.

There are about 250 tanneries that make up the district and alongside them a dense network of small and medium-sized companies has developed, carrying out contract work on behalf of third parties, specialising in some processing phases. That’s a total of 600 companies with 8000 employees and a total turnover of more than € 2.4 billion, of which 70% deriving from exports.

Combining tradition and innovation, the district has evolved in several directions. It has lengthened the supply chain, giving rise to a significant number of spin-off companies supplying chemicals, tanning machinery, services, clothing, leather goods and footwear manufacturing, and has adapted to the needs of the luxury market, proving capable of competing on international markets.

The tanning district of S. Croce sull ‘Arno is a virtuous example of a circular economy. Dedicated research and development has led tanneries, through trade associations, to set up various related companies with the aim of recovering production waste and transforming it into reusable products in tanneries or other production sectors. Here stands one of the largest and most advanced sewage treatment plants in Europe, Aquarno, which has a sewage treatment capacity of 180 thousand cubic metres of water from industrial and civil wastewater.

Since 2002, the district has also set up a Tannery Technology Hub, a high-level structure that supports the tannery business in the fields of laboratory analysis, research and training at an academic and professional level.