In a novel technology, scientists at the CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) in Chennai have made a useful breakthrough, extracting high-grade gelatin from raw animal hide and skin trimming wast at leather tanneries.

A huge amount of raw trimming waste accounts for about seven per cent of the total quantity of raw material processes. On average in India, about 800,000 tons of raw hides and skins are processed annually for leather manufacture. So that means more than 50,000 tons of raw trimming wastes are generated from various leather tanning clusters in India.

According to B Madhan, principal scientist, CLRI, the predominant constituent of the raw trimmings are collagen, a structural protein present in the extracellular matrix. The collagen is chemically and thermally processed to make gelatin. “Collagen is found in the tendons, skin, bone, connective tissue of mammalian, avian and fish species. The destruction or partial hydrolysis of cross linkages between three polypeptides chains of collagen is transformed to gelatin through extraction. Gelatin is a translucent brittle solid substance, slightly yellow, nearly tasteless and odourless. The quality of the gelatin is determined by molecular weight distribution as well as various parameters such as bloom strength, clarity and organic content. Using one tonne of trimming waste we can produce about 200 kg of high-grade gelatin, which costs `500 per kg and in retail it can be sold up to `1,000 per kg,” Madhan said.

P Saravan, Head of Project Planning and Business Development, CSIR, said the technology was exclusively licensed at a cost of 10 million rupees to Chennai-based Anipro Manufacturing Company for making gelatin and protein hydrolysate within India.