In this study, utilization of a solid waste as raw material for activated carbon production was investigated. For this purpose, activated carbons were produced from chromium and vegetable tanned leather shaving wastes by physical and chemical activation methods. A detailed analysis of the surface properties of the activated carbons including acidity, total surface area, extent of microporosity and mesoporosity was presented. The activated carbon produced from vegetable tanned leather shaving waste produced has a higher surface area and micropore volume than the activated carbon produced from chromium tanned leather shaving waste. The potential application of activated carbons obtained from vegetable tanned shavings as adsorbent for removal of water pollutants have been checked for phenol, methylene blue, and Cr(VI). Adsorption capacities of activated carbons were found to be comparable to that of activated carbons derived from biomass. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.