Australia — January 17, 2012 — A collective of woolgrowers, scientists and carbon specialists known
as the Wool Carbon Alliance (WCA) has reviewed the latest research on wool’s role in the natural
carbon cycle, from woolgrowing properties to homes around the globe.
Life cycle analyses on-farm, together with 11 separate life cycle studies of wool products
have shown that natural wool fibre is carbon friendly.
Independent agricultural scientist with FSA Consulting Stephen Wiedemann said “advanced
methods of on-farm carbon accounting have shown how woolgrowers can play an important role in the
carbon cycle. Preliminary results suggest where soil carbon sequestration can be achieved, wool
production can be carbon neutral.”
Advances in methodology in this area have led to considerably lower carbon footprint
estimates for wool (by 60 to 80 per cent).
Wool Carbon Alliance Chairman Martin Oppenheimer said many of the existing perceptions about
wool carbon needed to be challenged by current and relevant science.
“We are finding that the wool fibre production systems, based on renewable grass and natural
vegetation, complement current demands to reduce carbon emissions. Wool is part of the natural
cycle of water and carbon that can impact climate in a positive way.”
The WCA also heard the latest research from Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) product
development team, which is working on ways of reducing wool’s carbon footprint by reducing energy
use during manufacturing, laundering and garment disposal. As part of the CEW (Chemicals, Energy
and Water) project, AWI is looking at ways to reduce the amount of energy used during the
manufacture of woollen garments and by the consumer when washing and drying.
In manufacturing, most energy is used during the dyeing operation, and AWI has adopted a two
pronged approach. Firstly looking at mechanical modifications to the dyeing machine, and secondly
the dyeing process itself.
With regard to domestic laundering of wool garments, AWI is exploring technology that allows
wool garments to be successfully washed at lower temperatures than the normal 40°C wash. In
addition, work is being conducted to reduce the drying time during tumble drying. Initial work
suggests the drying time can be reduced by about 30 per cent. An online resource for woolgrowers to
access relevant reports is available at
Posted on January 17, 2012
Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. (AWI)