Wool is inherently a sustainable fibre. However, not all wool is created equally.  The EU Ecolabel is a powerful way for wool growers, manufacturers and brands to demonstrate the positive environmental efforts they are involved in.   Wool certainly ticks many boxes however there is a risk of misrepresenting to consumers that wool is fully sustainable just because it is natural.   This assumption ignores important factors such as land management, chemical use in processing, and energy consumption.   The EU Ecolabel scheme looks under the bonnet at how products come to market to give assurance of best business practice.   When it comes to wool the value chain can stretch from farms in countries like New Zealand and Australia, and then through several continents where it is spun and dyed before it is used in carpets and furniture throughout Europe. The EU Ecolabel has to know where wool has been produced and how it has been processed in order to pass assurances on to the consumer.     Contrary to what might seem logical, the distance that materials travel has little impact on a products footprint. What really matters is the energy and chemistry used to create products and how the impact on the environment is managed.   The wool supply chain can be complex and not without challenges. What follows is a summary of the various routes available for wool to achieve EU Ecolabel certification at the greasy and scoured stages for use in textiles and floor coverings.  If your product is to carry the EU Ecolabel logo, it is important that your scoured wool conforms to one of the options below.  

Option 1 .  On farm certification of greasy wool plus use of an approved scourer   Farms are regularly audited by an approved third party to ensure restricted ectoparasiticides are not used.  Together with evidence from the wool scour that a). waste water is treated to reduce its toxicity and meets tough COD limits and b). other wastes are recovered (e.g. lanolin).

Option 2. Testing of greasy wool plus use of an approved scourer.   Wool can be submitted for independent testing for ectoparasiticide concentrations prior to scouring.   Again, evidence must be produced by the wool scour to demonstrate that a). waste water is treated to reduce its toxicity and meets tough COD limits and b). Other wastes are recovered (e.g. lanolin ).  

Option 3. Closed Loop Scouring   Wool is scoured in a closed loop system where all chemicals are captured with no discharge to the environment and other wastes are recovered.