SWITCH-Asia Sustainable Yak Leather (SYL) is adopting circular economy practices to boost greener and environmentally friendly bio-leather production in Mongolia


The tanning industry is one of the most important industries in Mongolia even though it is still based on traditional practices, old facilities, equipment and technicalities, and there is a need for increased attention to environmentally-friendly, green technologies and circularity of products. Most factories only process up to the wet blue stage and about 20% produce processed leather. However, this percentage is decreasing due to quality issues linked to resilience, odor and skin damage (World Bank 2019. Mongolia Central Economic Corridor Assessment, A Value Chain Analysis of the Cashmere-Wool, Meat and Leather Industries).

Among the 10.4 million largest animals of Mongolia’s domestic livestock, yaks amount to 1 million and all but 5% are located in six provinces. Yaks are especially suited to the Mongolian context, providing a range of products such as milk, fibres, cashmere, hair, meat and hides, with less disadvantages compared to other cattle (environmental impact of goats, ‘high maintenance’ of cattle) and supporting the livelihood of many households in the yak raising provinces.

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