The RWS includes essentials freedoms for the animals and ensures best practices in the management and protection of the land. Through the processing stages, certification ensures that wool from certified farms is properly identified and tracked.
The goals of the standard are to provide the industry with the best possible 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; build communication and understanding between farmers, consumers and brands, and provide a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product to ensure consumer confidence in RWS products.
In March 2014, H&M and Textile Exchange started an International Working Group to develop the RWS. The IWG includes representation from a broad spectrum of interested parties, including animal welfare groups, farmers, wool suppliers, and brands and supply industry associations covering apparel and home categories.
Developed through an open, multistakeholder process, the RWS is a global benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices, while maintaining applicability in regions all over the world, Textile Exchange noted.
The RWS development process began with hours of research of existing standards. In late 2015, pilot audits began in key sheep raising regions in the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Austria, the U.S. and the U.K., each providing valuable information used to refine the requirements and certification approach. Two Public Stakeholder Review periods were held to invite feedback from anyone interested in the standard. The final version was approved by the Steering Committee of the International Working Group prior to its release.
Textile Exchange, founded in 2002, 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 this $1.7 trillion industry. TE provides the knowledge and tools this industry needs to make significant improvements in Fiber and Materials, Integrity and Standards, and Supply Chain. TE has developed and maintains a number of important industry standards, including the Responsible Down Standard, the Organic Content Standard, the Recycled Claim Standard and the Global Recycled Standard.