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WELLINGTON – Existing measurements of wool’s environmental impact are likely to be vastly inflated because they focus on just one segment of the supply chain. New research provides the first cradle to grave life cycle analysis (LCA) of a woollen garment – critically including garment use phase and consumer choices related to garment lifetime. The study found the number of times a wool garment is worn and length of garment lifetime has comfortably the largest influence on its overall environmental impact.

Existing fibre scoring tools – most notably the Higg MSI – ignore use phase and focus on production, the result being that fibres such as wool (and alpaca wool) score poorly. For example, wool fabric has an environmental impact of 82, according to the Higg MSI, while polyester fabric’s impact is just 44, scores which might come as a surprise to the casual observer.

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