Textile Exchange has issued the first draft of the Responsible Wool Standard for public stakeholder review as part of a process to create a global benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices in sheep farming.

The organization said this is an important opportunity for the public to give input into the standard and ensure that it meets its goals and delivers value to the wool industry.

The goals of the RWS are to provide the industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers around the globe, ensure wool comes from responsibly treated sheep and from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, drive understanding and adoption of best land management principles and practices, and provide a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product.

“Wool owes its unique properties to the sheep that grow it and we owe it to the sheep to ensure their welfare is protected,” the group said.

To this end, Textile Exchange started an International Working Group to develop the RWS. The standard has been written through an open, multistakeholder process, with representation from a broad spectrum of interested parties, including animal welfare groups, farmers, wool suppliers, and brands and supply industry associations covering the apparel and home categories.

Work on the standard began in early 2014 and has involved the input of multiple experts, alongside the support and engagement of brands and retailers. Pilot audits have been conducted in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Austria, the U.S. and the U.K., each providing information used to refine the requirements and refine the auditing and certification approach.

The Stakeholder Review will remain open for 60 days, in accordance to the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for standard setting. Following the review, the RWS Technical Group will review the input, make revisions and put the standard out for another 30 day Open Stakeholder Review, after which final revisions will be made. Updates to the progress will be posted at responsiblewool.org.

Founded in 2002, Textile Exchange  is a global nonprofit organization that works closely with all sectors of the textile supply chain to find the best ways to minimize and even reverse the negative impacts on people, air, water, animals, and soil created by the $1.7 trillion industry.

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