Part one of a four-part series examines the cost of the textile and tannery industries across the world. In Bangladesh, India and other developing countries, leather processing is a big business that remains largely unregulated, contributing to excessive waste contamination in the surrounding neighborhoods.
About 90 percent of Bangladesh's leather is tanned in Hazaribagh. And the country's economy depends heavily upon leather and the manufacture of leather goods — which explains in no small measure the government's reluctance to crack down on polluters. In 2015 and 2016 Bangladesh produced about $1.5 billion in leather and leather goods, most of it exported, according to the Bangladesh Board of Investment. Leather and leather goods represent the country's second largest export, after garments. Turmoil in Hazaribagh threatens to upend the country's efforts to increase its tiny share of the more than $200 billion global leather market.
Should that come to pass, it would be just one more step in a long journey for the tanning industry, which has spent decades hopscotching across the globe, assiduously fleeing regulation and rising labor costs, and leaving long-lasting toxic footprints at each stop.
Read the series here.