Update: Sustainable Practices Working Group Responds to Pulse Report

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Sustainable Practices Working Group: Focus on the Pulse Report

A substantial report on sustainability in the fashion industry, released earlier this year, has been the focus of recent activities of the Sustainable Practices Working Group (SPWG).

Among other things, the “Pulse of the Fashion Industry” Report, released in May by Global Fashion Agenda (an initiative of the Danish Fashion Institute) calls for the industry to increase its use of polyester by 2030, on claims that it is “recyclable.”

IWTO took issue with several aspects of the report, most importantly with its use of a chart comparing fibres in which wool ranks poorly for environmental impacts while synthetic fibres and polyester ranks well.

The chart used only cradle to gate data, supplied by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition through one module of its Higg Index. The cradle-to-gate phase is where most of environmental impacts occur for natural fibres. But later phases, where more impacts occur for synthetic fibres, are not reflected in this data.

IWTO’s position is that this is misleading. Readers, particularly those who do not have a technical background in textiles or Life Cycle Assessment, will probably not consider that there is no farm gate as such for fibres such as polyester, acrylics, etc., nor wonder how it is that these petrochemical based fibres can appear to be better for the environment.

Read IWTO’s response to the Pulse Report here.

IWTO, through the SPWG, will continue to work on this issue.

Use phase practices for wool review complete; wool recycling modelling underway along with studies on nutrient and toxicity impacts in wool systems

The SPWG, through its Technical Advisory Group, has a number of ongoing research projects. One key stream of work is in establishing robust data on the service life of wool products as this is critical to the measurement of the environmental impacts of the use phase of a product.

A review of use phase practices for wool has recently been completed, and a number of papers based on this work are being generated.

Other projects currently underway include modelling of wool recycling, enabling wool’s high recycling rate to be recognized in LCA as well as  studies assessing eutrophication and toxicity impacts of wool’s supply chain , with results anticipated for next year.

About IWTO’s Sustainable Practices Working Group

Recognising the importance of communicating the environmental sustainability of the wool fibre, IWTO established the Sustainable Practices Working Group in May 2011. One of IWTO’s most active working groups, the SPWG has made significant contributions to the scientific understanding of how wool interacts with the environment throughout its life cycle. The SPWG is chaired by Geoff Kingwill (Cape Wools SA, South Africa) and meets quarterly.

The SPWG is made possible through funding from the American Wool Council/American Sheep Industry, Australian Wool Innovation, Cape Wools SA and the Südwolle Group.

The group is open to all IWTO Members. For more information, see www.iwto.org/sustainable-practices-working-group.



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