Australia's wool industry has one of the best sustainable stories to be told in the modern world, but getting it across to the world is not an easy task.
Sustainability is now a high priority for consumers, both domestic and international, and according to WoolProducers Australia president, Ed Storey, wool is being recognised more than ever as one of the most sustainable fibres in the world.
"Sustainability was always part of the wool industry, but the interest surrounding it has accelerated this year," Mr Storey said.
"I would contend quite easily the most sustainable fibre on the planet
"But the challenge for the industry in the next 12 months is to articulate the Australian wool story better than ever before."
Wool in 2020 had a tough year, due to the nature of the products it was at the cold face of the retail shutdown around the world due to Covid and being a discretionary spend, retail sales dried up quickly.
And what we are wearing has dramatically changed. No longer are we suiting up for a day at work, it's now smart casual for zoom meetings in front of a computer screen or smart phone.
So as casualisation becomes the new normal throughout the world, an opportunity for wool to be available to a greater audience of consumers has opened up.
"People will return to the office and suiting sales will return, but perhaps not to the extent that they did before, and there will be that casualisation trend," Mr Storey said.
"Wool is very well placed, we have a whole range of sports and next-to-skin wear.
"A range of companies around the world are doing some great work as more people walk or commute to work on a bike, but however they do, wool has all the qualities they need."
At the online the 2020 Wool Connect conference hosted by the Schneider Group, the sustainability qualities of wool weighed heavily in discussions.
"In terms of sustainability, wool requires less washing, it is biodegradable, breathable, you can wear it next to your skin," Mr Storey said.
"Wool is extremely well placed as the fabric of choice at a appropriate price and the longevity of the product.
"There is more talk around where the world is heading in terms of looking after our resources. Those conversations are accelerating, and wool has emerged as the ultimate sustainable fibre."
The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework, due to be released in April next year, is a world first, designed specifically for the Australian sheep industry and it's supply chain.
The industry framework, led by WoolProducers and Sheep Producers Australia, identifies sustainability priorities, demonstrates best practice and uses evidence to track industry progress against key indicators.
"The Framework will outline industry's commitment to sustainability through four key themes of caring for our sheep, enhancing the environment and climate, caring for our people, customers and communities and ensuring a financially sustainable industry," Mr Storey said.
"The Framework will be updated on an ongoing basis every couple of years."
He said they have had consultation with groups right across the value chain including animal welfare organisations, meat processors, and wool processors.
"As an industry driven mechanism, the Framework will help identify areas of strength and areas for improvement, which we can then collectively use as an opportunity to prove our sustainability credentials to both domestic and international customers," Mr Storey said.
"It is aimed at providing transparency around key facets of Australia's unique sheep and wool production and supply chain attributes.
"We all know the sustainability of the industry, but it will help us better understand it - the challenges and impacts in key areas around animal welfare, environment and climate change and industry sustainability and profitability.
"Generally speaking, we have a great story to tell so we need to stand by our production practices and demonstrate to the world that we are a sustainable industry."
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