Leather processing requires substantial inputs of energy, water and chemicals. Additionally, it generates significant amounts of liquid and solid waste, severely impacting the environment. Processing 1 Mg of raw hides yields up to 600–700 kg of waste, considerable amounts of which are solid tannery waste. Such waste contains chromium (Cr) compounds, which are commonly used as tanning agents. This paper reviews solid tannery waste treatment technologies, with emphasis on waste incineration in a specially designed experimental tunnel incinerator. Three different types of tannery waste were subjected to tests: trimmings, shavings and buffing dust. As the research revealed, the process can be applied to all types of solid tannery waste. Moreover, it enables the reuse of the heat of the process and results in a Cr concentrate in the process residues. The conducted analyses (carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen elemental analysis; inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy; powder X-ray diffraction) proved that there is no or little organic content in the obtained residual ash, which contains up to 53.1%(w/w) Cr in the form of Cr (III) oxide. Such material may be used as a Cr ore substitute in the chemical or metallurgical industries.
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