Sustainable engineered leather seats (SmartRailWorld)

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The rail industry cannot rest on its laurels or remain content with trumpeting its low-carbon credentials without committing itself to further sustainability gains. The hotly-anticipated advent of autonomous vehicles, together with ride-sharing services and other greener methods of personal transportation, means that railways need to pursue sustainability with increased vigour and ingenuity.

This has been recognised in countries such as the UK where, in 2016, the Rail Minister launched a set of Sustainable Development Principles for the industry. Among the principles were a commitment to reduce the railway’s environmental impact and to become ‘carbon smart’ by achieving long-term reductions in greenhouse emissions.

What about the materials used in vehicles – including seat upholstery? The man-made fibres or plastics that you’ll find on the vast majority of train seats are hardly great for the planet: they often contain harmful chemicals, are difficult to recycle and, more often than not, uncomfortable to sit on.

Train operators can enhance their environmental credentials while simultaneously improving passenger comfort by replacing traditional upholstery with materials such as engineered leather. This is a material that uses off-cuts from the traditional leather industry and uses a variety of environmentally-friendly processes to turn it into a high-performance material that is luxurious, durable and incredibly versatile.

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Written by Long Branch Mike