E lmo's design development within the automotive industry demands innovative thinking about function. Generally speaking, the customers have specific wishes that Elmo has to ultimately realize into a feasible product. Customer ideas often come from products such as bags, shoes and belts. The development of new design programs is undertaken in secrecy because automotive designers have very clear goals of what they want to achieve. " It is extremely important to find the balance between innovative thinking from our perspective as a supplier and the creative ideas from our automotive industry customers," says Victoria Johansson, project leader and design coordinator at Elmo. The design development process requires mutual understanding to convert the ideas into a product that will pass all necessary requirements. Elmo works with a wide range of leather qualities, from the finest leather available to those that are much more durable and more commonly used. High elegance in concept cars Concept cars are typically presented with leather interiors, which Elmo has provided to a number of manufacturers including Volvo, Saab and Volkswagen. One of the main aims of a concept car is to tempt those that view it with a special material that doesn't remind them too much of a standard interior. This material should also push the limit to show that leather is, in fact, a natural, pleasant living material. Elmo has a big advantage because it has plenty of experience with high- end leather, used extensively in furniture. The Elmo Leather tannery in Sweden has been operating a wastewater treatment plant that uses an innovative system for nitrogen removal since 2005. The innovation of the plant is the implementation of a nitrification and denitrification step in the treatment of tannery wastewater. Previously, the technology has not been considered feasible in wastewater treatment plants for the leather industry due to the composition of the tannery wastewater. This EU LIFE- supported project has demonstrated that it is possible to reduce the nitrogen discharge from the leather industry by more than 80% in a cost- effective way. Refining the production process Elmo Leather has been focused on having an environmentally sound leather production process for many years. To make this possible, alterations have been made in various stages of production, including the substitution of chemicals, which has substantially reduced the environmental impact of the whole procedure. In order to make further progress and achieve further improvements, the company needed to introduce a new treatment process for the tanning industry to further reduce the nitrogen pollution in the wastewater. Previously the wastewater from the tannery was discharged to the municipal wastewater treatment plant
in Svenljunga together with municipal wastewater from Svenljunga. This situation was a barrier for the tannery to increase the leather production, and furthermore the environmental authorities in Sweden were pressing the tannery to reduce the nitrogen pollution. The reduction of the nitrogen discharge to rivers and lakes has been a very high priority in Sweden for several years. The tannery started planning for the construction of a new treatment plant in 2002, with a clear goal that the amount of nitrogen removed should be high ( more than 80%) and stable. The nitrogen removal should not be affected by changes in the composition of the wastewater, nor by the harsh winter conditions in Svenljunga where temperatures of - 20 ° C are not uncommon. Selection of technology The project started with an extensive survey of results from other wastewater treatment plants. The study showed that the nitrification and denitrification of tannery wastewater to reduce the nitrogen content in the wastewater has gradually been discussed as an option in countries with strict nitrogen discharge limits. However, due to severe difficulties in controlling the process and odour problems, the process has not been introduced or considered possible for the treatment of tannery wastewater. One of the major suppliers of nitrification/ denitrification systems in Europe performed laboratory trials for a total of eight months on the use of nitrification/ denitrification " The reduction of the nitrogen discharge to rivers and lakes has been a very high priority in Sweden for several years"