Environmentally Aware Leather - LWG Gold Certification

Yukon Bags was born out of our founder’s love for adventure. Exploring uncharted parts of the wilderness requires reliable gear. Yukon was founded out of a need for rugged, reliable, yet stylish backpacks and bags for trailblazers, serious explorers, and everyday adventurers, alike. At Yukon, we employ skilled artisans and utilize only the best materials to craft our merchandise. Each piece is built to last - trip after trip, time after time.

Enjoying the scenery also requires protecting it. We take environmental consciousness and sustainability seriously – that is why we proudly support the environmentally responsible practices promoted by the worldwide L.W.G. (Leather Working Group) organization. We only work with tanneries and suppliers that are L.W.G. Gold Medal Certified – which means that environmental sustainability is built into our process from the very first steps (purchasing the hides) to the finished product.

We are passionate about protecting the environment. The only way to guarantee that a product is 100% sustainably produced means working exclusively with other environmentally conscious businesses when creating our products. We never purchase mass-produced hides from large suppliers that do not offer clear and honest hide traceability. By purchasing only from L.W.G. Gold Certified tanneries we can guarantee complete and honest transparency up the supply chain. To earn the L.W.G. Gold certification, a business must pass a series of rigorous inspections and audits. L.W.G.’s comprehensive audit protocol covers every part of the product’s creation, from the raw materials to the finished goods. When you purchase your leather goods from Yukon Bags, you can be assured that the hide came from an L.W.G. Gold Certified tannery where the cows are raised in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

What does the L.W.G. Gold Certification mean to you, the consumer? It is your guarantee that the product you’re investing in was made in an environmentally sound fashion – this certification is solely awarded to tanneries and manufacturers who have passed each audit and have a proven track record for consistently using the best environmentally sound practices in the industry. In a nutshell - the certification covers auditing the supply chain, taking environmental responsibility, and providing clear and honest traceability. L.W.G. certification is awarded to tanneries that demonstrate environmental best practices and performance in all areas of leather production. This extensive audit includes responsible water management, banning chemicals that are toxic to the environment, generating clean energy usage, avoiding harmful greenhouse gas emissions, proper waste management, and transparency in cowhide traceability.


The L.W.G. is a non-profit organization responsible for the world's leading environmental certification for the leather manufacturing industry.  It serves as a platform to promote ethical, responsible, and sustainable practices within the industry. Through a transparent approach involving the brands, suppliers, retailers, and leading technical experts, the L.W.G. members are challenged to continuously improve their practices. The L.W.G. audit protocol is recognized worldwide.  This protocol is used to assess the environmental performance of leather manufacturers, all the way up the supply chain. The scoring is a comprehensive system in which several topics are rated. To become Gold certified, a business must pass the audits and prove that they operate utilizing the best practices in the leather industry. The L.W.G. audits take place onsite. The auditing procedure and inspections can take several days to complete and require a full 2 years of data to be included in each report. To remain certified, a business must be audited every 24 months.

The L.W.G. awards four types of certifications. From highest-ranking down to merely passing the audit, these are:

  • Gold.
  • Silver.
  • Bronze.
  • Audited.

The L.W.G. audit covers the environmental best practices and performance in all areas of leather production, from chemical and water management to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and hide traceability. Hide traceability is a vital part of the audit – to earn certification a tannery must prove that the cows are cared for in an environmentally sustainable manner. L.W.G. has several protocols built into the audit process to guarantee traceability throughout the supply chain – this is to ensure that each hide can be traced back to the farm it originated from. This also ensures zero waste – the hides must come from cows that are used for food (steaks, burgers, etc.). To raise animals simply for the hides creates waste – not only the waste of meat but the waste of raw, natural resources like energy and water that are needed to raise cattle. At Yukon we adhere to the L.W.G. policies and the tanneries that we work with are Gold Certified members of the L.W.G.


The Leather Working Group (LWG) audit protocol is a tool to assess the environmental performance of leather manufacturers all over the world. The audit protocols are designed to cover all areas going up the leather supply chain, from the raw, natural materials to the finished product.  There is a tailored auditing approach for each different type of operation

The L.W.G. Leather Manufacturer Audit Standard was launched in 2005. This flagship audit certification assesses the environmental performance and compliance of leather manufacturing facilities (also known as tanneries).) The scoring is a comprehensive system in which several topics are rated against best practices in the industry. Our leather standard audits tanneries on the following aspects of their production practice:

  • Water & Energy Usage: L.W.G. members must actively work towards reducing the amounts of natural resources being used - resources such as energy, water, and chrome, etc. Raw materials that cannot be recycled, such as heat energy from oils or solvents, must be recovered. Materials that can be reused for the same purpose (such as pallets) must be reused to help reduce the amount of waste. All incoming and outgoing sources of water are measured for wastewater contaminants and are included in the final score.
    • Solid Waste & Effluent Management: Reuse items that can be reused (pallets, wastewater, etc.), and recycle any materials that cannot be reused into other products. As much as possible, avoid materials that cannot be reused or recycled. Disposables must be handled and disposed of safely and legally. Any waste disposal must comply with all local laws. A register of all waste must be maintained. If waste is burned onsite, gaseous emissions and contaminants must be monitored. Excess salt recovered from salted or brined hides must be disposed of properly – there is a penalty if it is stored on-site and an automatic Fail score if the disposal is not controlled. Penalties are imposed if the salt discharge is above the allowance. There is increased testing for 5 key wastewater contaminants – to earn an L.W.G. third-party testing of the wastewater used for irrigation must be included in the final score.
    • Air & Noise Emissions: An air emissions inventory to identify all sources of air emissions must be maintained. Each type of emission must be identified or quantified. Functioning emissions control devices must be installed to earn an L.W.G. Gold certification. The medal thresholds that are specified for V.O.C. emissions (Volatile Organic Compounds) are ranked by the following chart (per medal):
      • Gold <45 g/m2
      • Silver <60 g/m2
      • Bronze <75 g/m2      
  • Traceability: Consumers today want to know what they are buying, where it comes from, and how it was made. The Leather Working Group has been active in driving traceability within the leather sector since 2008 when concerns related to deforestation and cattle ranching were raised by several notable N.G.O.s (non-governmental organization (non-profit)). At the time, many global brands were challenged to review their supply chain policies to reduce the level of deforestation across the world. Traceability begins with the slaughterhouse – they must operate in an environmentally conscious, socially conscious, ethical, and humane way. Traceability holds every person and business involved in the leather supply chain (including subcontractors) accountable.
  • Health & Safety: Employees must receive fair wages and work in a safe environment. Some of the topics that are covered in the audit include ensuring that correct P.P.E. (personal protective equipment) is available and is continuously used by the staff. Correct incident response equipment must be available wherever it is needed. Annual assessments for worker’s exposure to health hazards such as V.O.C. and risk of exposure to H.S. are required. Procedures must be in place to cover all possible emergencies. We value our employee’s health and welfare as highly as we value producing leather goods in a humane and environmentally sustainable fashion.
  • Chemical Management: In 2017, the L.W.G. Chemical Management Module (C.M.M.) was launched. This module is designed to assess a leather manufacturer’s use, management, and disposal of chemicals within their facility. All input material must be M.R.S.L. (Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) This list protects consumers, workers, and the environment. M.R.S.L. testing identifies the amount of each restricted chemical used in manufacturing raw materials. R.S.L. (Restricted Substances List) testing is required for all finished products and must be aligned with A.F.I.R.M. (Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management). All incoming materials and chemicals must be R.S.L. compliant. All chemicals must be stored correctly and safely.
  • Restricted Substances, Compliance & Chromium VI (CrVI) Management: Chromium VI (CrVI) is a compound that is usually produced during the manufacturing process. It is a known carcinogenic and can cause respiratory, skin, liver, kidney, and eye problems. The limit for CrVI is 3ppm or lower – if the testing shows higher levels, it is an automatic Fail. To pass the audit, a minimum of 0.1 batches against R.S.L. must be tested and corrective action must be taken when necessary. To earn a Gold Certification, all outgoing part-processed and finished leather must be tested against a matrix of requirements. All tanned leather must be tested a minimum of 4 times each year. Yukon is proud to support L.W.G.’s efforts in producing leather goods in a humane, ethical, and environmentally conscientious fashion.


The Leather Working Group is the Number 1 globally recognized brand representing responsible leather sourcing to the industry and the consumers. Since the organization was founded, L.W.G- rated leather manufacturers have managed to save an average of 775 Megawatts of energy each year. As a multi-stakeholder group, L.W.G. boasts over 1000 members from across the leather supply chain. This membership roster includes:

  • Brands and retailers that sell leather products to consumers. 
  • Manufacturers of leather (aka, tanneries). 
  • Traders of part-processed and finished leather. 
  • Manufacturers of leather garments, footwear, and furniture.
  • Suppliers of chemicals, machinery, and testing for the leather industry.
  • Associations within and related to the leather industry.

L.W.G. certified tanneries use and manage natural resources such as energy and water responsibly. We actively work to reduce gaseous emissions, protect the environment, and to conserve raw natural resources. By supporting the Leather Working Group, Yukon is helping to push the leather industry into a more environmentally sustainable direction.


Yukon exclusively purchases hides from L.W.G. Gold Medal Certified tanneries. This is our guarantee, and yours, that each hide comes from a cow that was raised in a responsible, environmentally aware fashion.

The Environmental Audit Protocol focuses on ensuring that the tanneries are operating in environmentally sound manner. Air emissions, waste disposal, chemical usage, energy consumption, and water usage are all factors of this audit. The goal is to promote traceability, reduce consumption of raw natural resources, and to ultimately put a stop to deforestation. The L.W.G. has collaborated with Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation in their effort to achieve these goals.

At Yukon, we are committed to the environment – which is why we only purchase hides from L.W.G. Gold Certified tanneries. 


Your purchases contribute on an individual and a global level towards protecting the environment, sustaining precious natural resources, and providing safe and ethical working conditions. Brands that support L.W.G. continuously strive to follow the best practices in leather manufacturing. By supporting these brands, you are participating in making our planet a better place.

Yukon Bags goes above and beyond to support the L.W.G. standards. We value our employees, our planet, and our planet’s natural resources. Our dedication to producing ethical products in an environmentally sustainable fashion begins with the first step, when we purchase the raw, natural hides. We handpick our raw leather exclusively from responsible tanneries who are L.W.G. Gold Certified. By supporting tanneries that are L.W.G. certified, we are working together to create products in the most sustainable and environmentally conscious fashion possible.

L.W.G. utilizes a transparent approach to promote sustainable practices within the leather industry. The Leather Working Group (LWG) audit protocol is a tool to assess the environmental performance of leather manufacturers all over the world. The scoring is a comprehensive system in which several topics are rated. The Gold Medal Certification is only awarded to those brands who consistently not only meet but exceed all expectations. The standards are based on environmental best practices and performance in the industry. Members are challenged to continuously improve their practices. L.W.G. certification is awarded to tanneries that demonstrate environmental best practices and performance in all areas of leather production, from chemical and water management to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management and hide traceability.

When you purchase your leather goods from Yukon, you can be assured of the following: the leather is tanned responsibly, we offer complete traceability up the supply chain, we provide responsible use of resources, safe and ethical working conditions, and environmentally friendly treatment of waste and effluents.

Our planet is full of beautiful, natural places to explore and enjoy. You can help to preserve this natural beauty by supporting brands that are active members of the L.W.G. Consumers cast a vote every time they open their wallets – responsible consumption is the best way to encourage other manufacturers to practice sustainable and environmentally safe production.

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