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The World’s First Sustainable Wool Clothing Garments

An RWS certified product. Photo credit: Wools of New Zealand.

Textile Exchange announces that the first Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified products are now available in stores with more products making their way to shelves very soon as the commitment to the RWS from across the textile industry continues to grow.

The Responsible Wool Standard is a voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and of the land on which they graze. Since its release in June 2016, adoption of the standard has been steadily increasing across key wool growing and processing countries. There are now RWS certified farms in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as certified manufacturers across the world.

The RWS certified garments that are now available include:

ARKET

H&M Group has made a commitment to only using RWS or recycled wool in all of its products by the end of 2022. Its first RWS certified products launched in September 2018 in ARKET stores featuring wool from Uruguay and Australia.

In 2016, the retailer announced a €5.8 million ($6.5 million) effort to develop a new textile recycling technology. H&M Foundation — the nonprofit foundation funded by retailer H&M — and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel formed a four-year partnership with the aim of recycling blended textiles into new fabrics and yarns. The organizations said the technology will be licensed widely to ensure broad market access.

Eileen Fisher

The retailer recently released its first RWS certified garments made of wool from New Zealand and Argentina.

Founder Eileen Fisher shared, “I believe that the only way we’ll have a more responsible industry is if we help lead the change. That means engaging with partners who share our values—other brands, our suppliers and our customers. And that’s how we approached responsible wool: by partnering with Textile Exchange and the right farms.”

Her company is one of many retailers that, through the CottonConnect REEL program, has pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2025

Marks & Spencer (M&S)

The British retailer has this week launched its first products made from RWS certified wool. The wool is traceable back to a network of Wools of New Zealand farms where it was grown, including Palliser Ridge.

In 2017, M&S launched a recycled wool blend suit made from 55% recycled wool, including wool that customers have donated in stores through the company’s Shwopping initiative. Marks & Spencer takes the donated clothing and sends it to Italy where it is woven into the suit fabric. According to The Mirror, this is the first time a retailer has undertaken a recycling project on such a large scale. The move is part of Marks & Spencer’s commitment to make fashion – one of the most resource-intensive industries in the world – more sustainable.

Also in 2017, the company launched an initiative called “Project Thin Air” to redesign packaging for 140 popular food products. The goal: Use less plastic and slim down the pack size without changing the amount of food inside. This week M&S announced that the project has been successful to date.

Changes to the packaging included switching to a thinner, stronger film bag for their hand-cooked potato chips, which uses 20% less plastic than before, the Guardian reported. In addition, taking extra air out of their popcorn bags helped the company reduce the pack size by 37%.

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