Several times I've heard of people supporting leather against non-animal alternatives, saying that since animals are killed for meat we have a lot of skin to use and that it would be bad not to use it.
From this point of view we are led to draw the conclusion that using the skin is a better - in the sense of enviromental impact - option than disposing it.
But is this the reality?
Skin is not ready to use just after the slaughter, but it has to undergo a manufacturing process which has a high environmental impact, mainly due to the use of polluting chemicals (chromium, cadmium, lead, arsenic, cobalt, etc.) in the tanning sub-process and to the air pollution (hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) in the dehairing and deliming sub-processes.
Moreover, these processes require large quantities of water and, especially in developing countries, the waste are discharged into rivers polluting not only water but also soil (read about the environmental disaster in Kanpur, India).
I want to clarify that the question is about the disposing of raw skin, since the main objective of the discussion is to find out which choice about the skin, just after the killing of the animal, involves a greater enviromental impact: disposal or production?
So I'm not interested in the disposal of leather products, which I guess is even more polluting.
Unfortunately, beside the fact that leather biodegrades slowly - taking up to 40 years to decompose - I know nothing about the disposing of raw skin. This is due to the fact that when searching for information about it, all results are about the disposing of leather products instead.
Maybe it could be used to create compost?
p.s. I hope this is the correct place to talk about this, if not feel free to suggest me a more suitable place.