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Let’s cut to the chase: Bonded leather is not good leather. It is literally the bottom of the leather barrel.
To make Bonded leather, the manufacturer takes leftover scraps of leather, shreds and grinds them to a near pulp, and then bonds it all together on a fiber sheet using polyurethane or latex. The varying degree of actual leather in the mix (versus chemicals) affects the smell, texture, and durability of the product.
And yes, there can be a very high amount of chemicals versus leather in the mix. As long as some real leather is included, it can be called Bonded leather. Due to its low quality, Bonded leather is weak and degrades quickly. It is the cheapest to produce and is often resurfaced to look like higher quality types of leather.
Bonded leather can also be referred to as Reconstituted leather or Blended leather. It is most often used in belts, Bible covers, and low-priced leather furniture.