British Wool recently opened discussions on the environmental impact of wool carpet with key industry players at the National Floor Show in Harrogate, UK, following the successful peer review of its 12-month Life Cycle Analysis report.
The study, which was completed by a team at Leeds University according to ISO Standard 14040—the internationally recognized standard for LCA studies—covers the environmental impact of British Wool from the sheep in the field to the end of the scouring (washing) process. The report has returned to the Bradford based British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), environmentally favorable results for British scoured wool in comparison with synthetic fibers.
Tim Booth, product development manager at the BWMB said, “We held discussions on our stand with several companies wanting to know more because they have already felt the impact of environmental scrutiny on their products and business. Manufacturers are concerned about avoiding the damaging accusation of ‘greenwashing’—the term given to unproven claims regarding environmental status.
“They are also keen to establish ways in which they can improve their products in advance of any government enforced regulations. We have already seen tightly regulated enforcement affect the scouring and dyeing part of the industry and the government has indicated that this approach to reducing environmental impact will impact on the extended manufacturing process by 2050.”
Interest came from UK and European manufacturers, trade bodies, wool merchants and spinners, which Booth believes is a clear measure of the way the industry has shifted on the eco agenda.
“A few years ago, when we muted the LCA, we were told that it was not a major issue and that it was just a passing trend. We took the view that we should be prepared for any evaluation of our fiber and the information that has resulted from the study is highly favorable for British Wool and is beneficial to any company actively pursuing a measured environmental approach to their products.”
Manufacturers wishing to use the LCA on product will have to buy under the British Wool platinum certification scheme, which guarantees the origin of the fiber from the point of auction.
“We have now put in place a system for acquiring this status for products; it is effectively a verifiable guarantee of fiber content which manufacturers can request from spinners and merchants and this secures the Life Cycle Analysis standard for British Wool fiber within finished product.”
The British Wool Marketing Board is an organization owned by 50,000+ sheep farmers in the UK. It collects, grades, auctions and promotes approximately 32 million kilos of British Wool to the international textile industry. Wool sales are held fortnightly in Bradford and are attended by merchants servicing the global industry. There are 60 pure breeds of sheep and many half, cross and rare breeds. It is a strong, resilient fiber and the majority of the wool is secured by the carpet industry for use in carpets and rugs. Go to www.britishwool.org.uk to learn more.