The Story of SustainaWOOL™
Created through collaboration of some of the world’s leading wool processors and specialist wool growers and buyers, in 2015 SustainaWOOL™ was established as a mechanism to educate the wool-consuming-world to understand that its raw material suppliers (wool producers or growers) take the utmost care of their animals, their clip preparation responsibilities, and the environment.
Independent, ISO-certified, and industry operated, SustainaWOOLTM exists to support businesses throughout the wool pipeline
SustainaWOOLTM provides benchmark sustainability standards within the wool production systems of Australia and provides integrity and traceability from the individual grower farm – for the benefit of wool growers, processors, brands, retailers, and ultimately consumers.
- encourages the close communication between wool growers and those who purchase and process their product, which must always be built on foundations of transparency, trust, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to grow demand for our products.
- recognises the need for the Australian industry to move away from painful practices such as mulesing and commends the efforts of the many growers, researchers, processors, brands, and retailers who have invested in this outcome.
- recognises that the best possible welfare outcome for the animal must always remain paramount, and so where painful procedures still need to be applied to the sheep in the interests of its health and welfare, provision of pain relief is to be encouraged and is required of accredited SustainaWOOLTM suppliers.
SustainaWOOLTM has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s largest wool sustainability assurance schemes, with over 1,000 accredited wool grower suppliers and a rapidly growing number of accredited Supply Chain Partners.
Over one-third of all accredited SustainaWOOLTM growers produce non-mulesed wool.
The Scheme is voluntary for growers and supply chain partners and is monitored closely for ongoing compliance.
Our Integrity System
There are 3 key elements of the SustainaWOOLTM integrity system:
- The SustainaWOOLTM Scheme itself has achieved ISO9001-2015 certification, reflecting our commitment to the highest standards of independence, transparency, and conduct.
- Accredited SustainaWOOLTM wool growers:
- must renew their accreditation each year, completing a comprehensive yet practical self-assessment and declaration which addresses 61 individual aspects of the farm enterprise;
- are subject to mandatory desktop audit, and random on-farm audit – 20% of accredited growers farms are inspected each year by specialist farm inspectors.
- are subject to inspection of every wool sale lot offered for auction, by skilled AWEX wool appraisers.
- Accredited SustainaWOOLTM Supply Chain Partners renew their accreditation each year, demonstrate compliance with SustainaWOOLTM documentation requirements, and are able to participate in SustainaWOOLTM Consignment Certifications.
The SustainaWOOLTM Integrity Scheme covers 3 key pillars of wool production systems:
- Sheep health and wellbeing – SustainaWOOL™ defines minimum acceptable standards for sheep welfare, including that sheep must be non-mulesed or mulesed with pain relief, and growers eligible to take part in the SustainaWOOL™ Integrity Scheme must not have been prosecuted under any of the applicable state Animal Welfare Acts.
- Farm Management Practices and Facilities – SustainaWOOLTM defines minimum standards for good farm management practice, work, health and safety, and the standards of facilities through which sheep and wool pass.
- Clip Preparation – SustainaWOOLTM sets out requirements for wool preparation by trained and/or shearers, the wool is prepared and compliant with the AWEX Standard: Wool Classer Code of Practice , and that the wool is classed by a registered Professional or Owner wool classer. The Scheme also requires that all bales be packed within the recognised Australian wool industry’s specified weights and specifications and that only AWEX authorised nylon packs are used, and that supporting wool-production documentation must be available to auditors of the Scheme.
Transparency and traceability gives organisations throughout the supply chain the confidence in the integrity of fibre delivered to them under this Scheme.
The Scheme provides additional traceability for end-users, in conjunction with the existing systems to trace a bale back to the producer such as the National Wool Declaration, the registered Farm Brand and Stencil, the Classers Specification provided by the grower to their respective broker, and the regulations already in place involved in testing/sampling and displaying (showing) of wool for sale. Countermarking, documentation and various systems in place in the transport, dumping, packing and exporting of the bales allows the integrity of purchased wool to be upheld.
The SustainaWOOL™ Integrity Scheme also allows suppliers to nominate their ability to trace individual animals on their property, demonstrating an even deeper level of care and also a responsibility towards high quality management of their flocks. It is a requirement for accreditation that all sheep on the property be identified with a secure form of individual identification and that mobs are routinely monitored and their location on the farm known and documented.
Electronic unique Bale-ID, through the introduction of a unique RFID & Barcode on each wool pack, provides the ultimate in traceability. This feature will enable the wool bale to be viewed as it progresses through the supply chain from farm to first processor – with absolute confidence.
Accreditation requires a National Wool Declaration (NWD) be completed covering every bale of wool to be offered for sale. This verifies that there is full traceability under the AWEX NWD Scheme for Mulesing Status and Dark and Medulated Fibre.
Healthy sheep are at the centre of sustainable, profitable wool production – wherever it is grown.
There are over 1000 accredited SustainaWOOLTM growers around Australia, and more electing to declare their good stewardship practices every day.
For this reason, wool growers who uphold the highest possible standards take care of their animals and the environment, and take pride in the health of their farm and their livestock.
This means that sheep are kept in the best possible heath; that sheep have been given reasonable protection from the effects of disease, pests, predators and that appropriate corrective action is taken if sheep require treatment or relief from pain and suffering.
It also means that the farm environment and the facilities within are carefully maintained, and farm management practices are assessed and benchmarked, so they can be improved.
The SustainaWOOLTM Integrity Scheme allows professional wool producers the opportunity to declare to the world the actions that take place on their properties on a normal day-to-day basis – the actions which allow them to produce a quality product from their valued stock.
So, if you are not a member, ask yourself – why not?
A Gift to Industry
Industry ownership and operation
In July 2019 New England Wool and its’ shareholders have gifted the SustainaWOOL™ program to AWEX to ensure the continual growth and international recognition of the scheme for the benefit of the wool supply chain.
…with the wool consumer increasingly demanding a higher level of traceability along the pipeline of the production system from which they buy, SustainaWOOL™ under the guidance of AWEX can now provide the Australian wool industry with a single, reputable and independent scheme to promote the wonderful, high quality, sustainably produced, clean and green fibre – which is Australian wool.
AWEX was the natural answer to our project and the Australian wool producers deserve it. We are very proud that we can provide the wool industry with this gift.
AWEX has received overwhelming encouragement and support from the wider wool community to provide the Australian wool industry with a single, rigorously audited sustainability scheme that is independently owned and operated.
Globally, customers of wool are demanding evidence of sustainability through independent and credible integrity programs.
We have been working hard for four years in order to build the most important integrity scheme in the world. It is an independent powerful system that brings added value, not only to the Australian wool industry, but the whole supply chain. SustainaWOOL™ is indeed one of the strongest support structures for the modern green world.
SustainaWOOLTM has become a strong foundation for Australian wool producers to promote their product to the world and gain access to premium markets.
Mark Grave, CEO AWEX said that the textile market is very competitive, and AWEX is aware of the importance of getting this transition right and providing a scheme that caters for the needs of the market now, and into the future.
AWEX programs such as the Code of Practice for Wool Preparation and the National Wool Declaration Integrity Program are recognised and respected globally. SustainaWOOLTM is an extension of these and we are excited and proud to take this on.