There is a significant difference between recycled leather and repurposed leather.
Basically, recycled is broken down and reformed with the addition of a bonding agent to create a leather like material. Repurposed leather is taking an existing leather products material and creating a new useful item.
Recycled leather, in the industry, is defined as composition leather. The leftover pieces of leather that are trimmings, off-cuts, shavings, or scraps are discarded and usually put into the trash but can be reprocessed into the composition material. This reprocessing takes these discarded pieces and shreds them into a sawdust type texture. The shredded leather is bonded together with a polyurethane and heat pressed embossed with a leather pattern. The final product will usually have less than fifty percent actual leather and have a very polished or shiny finish. This type of leather material is commonly used for belts, car interiors, and many other accessories. This process has much less of an impact on the environment and is much more cost-effective for manufacturers.
Repurposed leather could technically be categorized as recycled leather but the end product will still be made with the full leather material. Environmentally this repurposing is the greatest way to make an impact, by changing something unwanted or worn out into something new that it can be used for a purpose. One of the ways that leather can be repurposed is by taking an existing leather product, breaking it down to retrieve any usable material and creating a new useful item. For instance leather, couch seats can become cracked or torn creating an unwanted piece of furniture, but the material on the backside of a couch will normally still be in great shape. By salvaging the usable material it creates a perfect opportunity to repurpose the good material into a pillow, rug, or reupholster a smaller chair. Another more commercial technique used to reuse leather begins with multiple eco-friendly cleaning processes that scour the material to create an even texture and uniformed color. This end product is then bonded together to create a material that is less expensive but still strong and beautiful with the same characteristics of traditional leather.
With the increased awareness of leather processing on the environment, more people are looking for ways to recycle and repurpose existing leather goods. There are companies created that will remake your unused leather jacket into a nice bag and others that gather unwanted leather goods from retailers and repurpose them for resale. Plus the numerous websites that will show you options and techniques to do it on your own. Besides the memories that would continue on when choosing to reuse, recycle, or repurpose a leather jacket it is a choice that will also impact the world environment.