- RELATED: Non-mulesed wool must pay
RETAIL pressure for ethically grown wool has escalated with the release of a proposed welfare standard which prohibits mulesing of skin from sheep.
American-based Textile Exchange made the first draft of the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) public last month which is supported by fast fashion retailers H&M, Target and C&A.
The RWS will exclude mulesed wool and calls on pain relief for shearing injuries, recording of sheep injuries and shearer declarations, while discouraging tail docking and castration.
Of the 53.1 per cent of wool sold at auction under the National Wool Declaration (NWD) scheme, 21pc of growers declared they used pain relief, 20pc mulesed and 9pc did not mules.
WoolProducers Australia chief executive, Jo Hall, said the RWS was “unrealistic and unachievable” in Australian production systems.
Ms Hall said the quickest way to change on-farm practices was through market forces.
Last January, University of Sydney’s Elizabeth Nolan released research, commissioned by the Australia Wool Innovation (AWI), revealing a slight premium of about 64 cents a head paid for “ceased mulesing” and “non-mulesed” wool.
Ms Hall said greater adoption by the industry of NWD would provide retailers with the ability to source non-mulesed wool, and ultimately “pay more for it”.
The RWS follows efforts to track the supply chain by NewMerino and Continuum Textiles – both represented on the advisory group and technical group respectively.
NewMerino chief executive, Peter Vandeleur, said the current RWS was “prescriptive” and would be difficult to implement, but supported a global verified wool supply chain. The RWS review is open until April 15.