Ahead of an official launch event during OutDoor next month, Textile Exchange (TE) has published the RWS at www.responsiblewool.org and outlined details about its background and development process.
The RWS is an independent, voluntary standard and is intended to be a global benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices in sheep farming. The development of the standard has been led by Textile Exchange, with strong input from the European Outdoor Group (EOG), and extensive engagement with wool growers, certification bodies, brands, supply chain companies and NGOs.
The goals of the standard are to provide the industry with the best possible tool to:
- Recognise the best practices of farmers around the globe
- Ensure wool comes from responsibly treated sheep, and from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land
- Build communication and understanding between farmers, consumers and brands
- Provide a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product to ensure consumer confidence in RWS products.
In March 2014, H&M and Textile Exchange started an International Working Group (IWG) to develop the Responsible Wool Standard. The IWG includes representation from a broad spectrum of interested parties, including animal welfare groups, farmers, wool suppliers, and brands and supply industry associations, covering both apparel and home categories.
Developed through an open, multi-stakeholder process, the RWS is a global benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices, while maintaining applicability in regions all around the world. The standard ensures that sheep are raised with respect to their five freedoms, with strong welfare principles in all aspects of farming. It also ensures that farmers follow best practices in land management.
The standard development process began with hours of research of existing standards. In late 2015, pilot audits began in key sheep raising regions in the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom, each providing valuable information used to refine the requirements, and certification approach. Two public stakeholder review periods were held to invite feedback from anyone interested in the RWS. The final version was approved by the Steering Committee of the IWG prior to its release.
Textile Exchange and the European Outdoor Group will hold a launch event for the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) at 10:30am on Thursday 14 July, in a press conference during OutDoor in Messe Friedrichshafen. Speakers at the event will include:
- Anne Gillespie, director of integrity, Textile Exchange
- Stuart Adams, founder, Continuum Textiles
- Mark Held, general secretary, European Outdoor Group.
During the press conference, Textile Exchange and the European Outdoor Group will present key elements of the RWS and answer questions about the standard. Anyone interested in attending the press conference, should email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 7971 868329.