Textile Exchange (TE) just launched an important voluntary standard for the global wool industry.
The global non-profit organization released the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), a set of guidelines that certifies humane treatment of sheep and responsible land management. The Responsible Wool Standard ensures that certified farms provide wool that is identifiable and traceable.
Two years ago, H&M and TE created an International Working Group (IWG), which developed the RWS. Animal welfare groups, farmers, wool suppliers, apparel brands and supply industry associations came together to address various issues within the global wool supply chain, including potential animal abuse and non-sustainable agricultural practices.
At the end of 2015, pilot audits of the RWS were conducted in major wool-supplier nations, including Australia, Argentina and New Zealand. The final version of the standard received approval from the Steering Committee of the International Working Group.
The RWS contains four important goals about animal welfare and sheep farming land management: iternational farmers with the best practices would be recognized under the new standard; ensuring wool is sourced from sheep farms that treat livestock and land accordingly is another top priority; fostering communication between brands, consumers and farmers will be key to promote transparency within the global wool supply chain; and, lastly, a custody system chain will be developed to trace wool from farm to final product to confirm humane and sustainable practices within RWS certified products.
If wool industry members wish to be certified, the RWS requires them to contact certification bodies that are awaiting TE approval, which include Control Union, LETIS and NSF. For more information, visit responsiblewool.org.
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