New report confirms that chemical residues in Australian and New Zealand raw wool is comparatively very low and is on the decline.

In response to EU regulations and increasing consumer interest in improved safety and environmental standards, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) sponsored a study on agricultural chemical residues in Australian and New Zealand “greasy wool” – or raw wool shorn from sheep. The results confirmed that there is an abundance of clean wool to be sourced that is well below the EU residue limits. As wool from these two countries accounts for almost a third of the global wool supply, the favorable results of the report also show a positive trend for the broader wool industry.

The problem with greasy wool residues

Most wool growers use various medicines to control parasites like lice, ticks, and mites. While proper use of these is important to meet animal health and welfare standards, such medicines can contain chemicals that, if not used according to the label, could later be found as residues in the greasy wool.

Meanwhile, more and more apparel rating agencies are adding toxicity to their fiber rating systems, which brands then use to decide which fibers to employ in their products. The degree to which residues would impact wool has therefore become an important, unanswered question in the industry.

To get to the bottom of this, researchers analyzed over 30 years of monitoring of a wide array of residues that may potentially remain in greasy wool if applied incorrectly. The results confirmed not only a low incidence of these residues, but also a decreasing trend whereby some residues have now even reached an average of virtually zero.

A proactive wool industry

AWI is the parent company of The Woolmark Company, the recognized global authority on wool. Its Program Manager of Fibre Advocacy & Eco Credentials, Angus Ireland, is pleased to see these results published in the journal of Scientific Reports and believes they provide robust data that can increase confidence in wool’s sustainability credentials at large:

“This body of work will give confidence to environmental apparel ratings agencies, brands, and the broader textile industry regarding the cleanliness of wool. These results reflect careful management practices by farmers servicing the wool industry, increasing confidence all along the supply chain,” says Angus Ireland, before concluding:

“The study results further demonstrate a proactive wool industry that is continually improving its environmental and safety performance.”

About IWTO

The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) is the global authority for standards in the wool textile industry. Since 1930, IWTO has represented the collected interests of the global wool trade. IWTO’s 33 members are based in 22 countries around the world, and represent all stages of the wool textile pipeline, from farm to retail. Through scientific research, wool textile education and knowledge sharing, IWTO ensures a sustainable future for wool.

About AWI

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development, and marketing along the worldwide supply chain of Australian wool to increase the long-term profitability of Australian woolgrowers. AWI’s marketing subsidiary is The Woolmark Company, owner of the Woolmark, a wool industry certification mark used on pure wool products that meet set quality standards.


Photo: Shirophoto

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