The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) has released guidelines for conducting life cycle assessment (LCA) for wool textiles. Designed for the use by LCA practitioners, these guidelines will provide an understanding of environmental impacts across the wool supply chain. With this, IWTO has taken a step for sustainable future for the wool industry.
"This is a small but specific audience, but important in promoting a consistent, best practice procedure to conducting wool LCAs," said Angus Ireland, deputy chair of IWTO’s Sustainable Practices Working Group, which oversaw the production of the guidelines. Ireland further added, "These guidelines will be relevant to any organisation undertaking an LCA of wool products."
The most commonly used tool for assessing a product's effect on the environment, LCA models the use of resources and emissions to air, land or water that occur from production, processing and manufacturing of products, the use of these products and their end-of-life recycling or disposal.
Like all models, LCA is a simplification of the world, and while the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets out a structure for the four main phases of a LCA study, without further specific guidance different LCA practitioners may get very different results for the same product. In order to reduce these inconsistencies, specific guidelines have been developed for many product types –and now, for wool textiles.
"Providing these guidelines to LCA researchers, the aim is to create a step change improvement in the application of LCA to wool supply chains," explained Stephen Wiedemann, chair of IWTO’s LCA Technical Advisory Group. "This method will improve the scientific veracity and comparability of studies that apply it, providing better information to decision makers and consumers of wool products."