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Wool Connect 2021 Summary Report

Wool Connect – Connecting people with people and people with the planet

On 07-09 September 2021, the Schneider Group organised its second edition of the Wool Connect Online Grower Conference. Each day consisted of 2-hour sessions filled with presentations and discussions on current topics of concern. 439 participants from 36 different countries registered for the event, Australians being the largest group. The majority of participants were wool growers, followed by industry and brokers. Each day around 180 people attended the sessions live via Zoom actively taking part by posing questions for the speakers and commenting in the chat. Those participants who could not attend the event live, have the possibility to watch the recorded presentations on demand in English and Spanish via the Wool Connect member community.

A total of 27 speakers spoke live at the event including a recorded message from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as the patron of the Campaign for Wool.

Strong opening message

The conference was opened by Elena Schneider, Board Member of the Schneider Group. She talked about her passion for food and stated: ‘Like there is a slow food movement in contrast to fast food, there also needs to be a slow fashion movement working against the extensive fast fashion industry, as the way we consume makes the difference. The aim should be to increase the consumption of wool and other natural fibres against synthetic fibres, which causes microplastic pollution. We need to ensure a better future for all of us’. She concluded with the words: ‘I strongly believe, there is only one way of solving the problems like economic and environmental issues or  COVID-19 by working together, connecting with each other, acting together and thinking as a community. As part of the Schneider Group’s Together 2030 sustainability strategy, we want to promote pre-competitive cooperation between all stakeholders of the wool industry. Through Wool Connect we want to connect people with people but also people with the planet’. Elena Schneider’s opening statement was supported by a short video of the ‘Hummingbird Story’ which developed into a common thread throughout the conference. 

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Day 1 – International Context and Progress

The topic of day 1 discussed the international context and progress for the wool industry. Speakers presented the overarching international strategies in regard to climate change and the circular economy that influence the fashion and textile industry. CEO of Textile Exchange, La Rhea Pepper, spoke about the organisation’s Climate+ strategy, to which many brands and retailers have committed themselves. Angus Ireland from the Australian Wool Innovation talked about the ongoing lobby work of the wool industry towards the European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint work. Matteo Mantellassi, CEO of wool recycling company Manteco highlighted wool’s benefits for a circular economy.    

Day 2 – Animal Welfare

On Day 2, speakers focused on Animal Welfare as a continuation of the discussions from last year’s Wool Connect conference. Many speakers were repeats from last year, showcasing the progress made over the past year based on the issues identified previously. This included Paul Swan from SustainaWOOL and Deon Saayman from Cape Wools South Africa who both announced collaboration agreements between various wool integrity schemes including Authentico. 

Furthermore, spinning company Südwolle Group, weaver Marzotto Wool Manufacturing and retail brand Hugo Boss reported on the current market, noticeable changes in consumer behaviour, and the increasing demand for certified non-mulesed wool. 

Day 3 – Regenerative Agriculture

On the third and final day of the event, industry experts discussed regenerative agriculture, a topic of interest that came up several times during the previous two days as well. While animal welfare and non-mulesed wool is still an important topic, the manufacturing and retail industry is shifting its focus to lowering its carbon footprint through regenerative agriculture, carbon credits, and natural capital accounting. TWIST editor Jonathan Dyson provided a good overview and analysis of the activities within the industry on this topic. Further industry representatives then showcased their work in this field. 

Closing of the event

CEO of the Schneider Group Giovanni Schneider summarised the event with the words that ‘Wool Connect discussed all the major topics around the industry right now. It was nice to see, that animal welfare is no longer the elephant in the room. It is reassuring to hear and see Growers who are not shying away from talking about their efforts on animal welfare. The new challenge is about sustainability and that is what we need to focus on going forward’. 

Wool Connect initiator and Chief Sustainability Officer Willy Gallia emphasized the importance of continued dialogue and collaboration along the entire supply chain to work towards the goal of increasing wool’s market share while also providing solutions to the planet’s urgent issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change.  

The dialogue continues on the Wool Connect member platform

Despite the live event being over, the conversation continues on the Wool Connect member platform, where community members can join Groups and Forums on topics of concern. One example is the RWS Group where representatives of Textile Exchange will be available to answer member questions around the Responsible Wool Standard.  

Wool Connect Android App launched

In addition, the platform is also available as an Android app, which makes it easier to access content and connect while on the move. An Apple app will be launched shortly as well. The app is available for download in the google play store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gschneider.woolconnect

Wool Connect Android App

Wool Connect 2022

Giovanni Schneider announced that a third live online conference of Wool Connect will be held in the autumn of 2022, the 100th year anniversary of the Schneider Group. Wool Connect is an important pillar of the company’s Together 2030 sustainability strategy and therefore a vital platform to contribute to the Science Based Targets set by the Schneider Group.

Anyone is welcome to sign up to Wool Connect and watch all presentations and Q&A Sessions on demand. Just visit the Wool Connect website: https://woolconnect.gschneider.com/

 

James Symes G. Schneider Australia

New addition to the G. Schneider Australia team

James Symes joins the G. Schneider Australia team

Starting 1 July 2021, the G. Schneider Australia team will be joined by James Symes. James will be based out of the Brooklyn office in Melbourne and support our Wool Manager Mark Symes. 

James has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science, majoring in Wildlife and Conservation Biology, which he graduated from the University in 2015. He also holds a Diploma of Water Operations from his previous work as well. 

By joining G. Schneider Australia, James will be entering the wool industry for the first time in his career. However, James says: ‘listening to my father Mark’s passion about all things wool and taking a keen interest in the Authentico program, I’ve been able to get a bit of background knowledge of the industry for which I am excited to learn and grow in.’

James’s responsibilities will include: 

  • Appraise and value wool to clients types and standards
  • Bid, buy and build consignments to client specifications. 
  • Provide market information pre/post-sale
  • Actively promote supply chain opportunities 

In addition to being active in the wool store, James will also eventually manage and coordinate the Authentico on-farm accreditation scheme by working closely with wool growers, brokers, and other industry bodies to ensure the reliability of the Authentico scheme within the supply chain.

When asked what motivated James to join the Schneider Group via the Melbourne office his reply was that ‘The Schneider Group’s sustainability focus to the wool industry really stood out to me as something I wanted to be a part of in conjunction with the Authentico Integrity Scheme, I am really excited to help in the implementation of “Together 2030” sustainability strategy of the company.’

We welcome James Symes as a member to the international Schneider Group team and wish him a good start.

New Junior Trader joins The Schneider Group’s Commercial Team

A Woolly Welcome to Paolo Foglia Taverna

On 15 March 2021, Paolo Foglia Taverna joined the Schneider Group team as Junior Trader. He will support the Administration and Commercial teams out of the Biella office. 

Paolo is 19 years old and originally from Biella. He has recently graduated from the high school Liceo G. & Q. Sella, in Biella, specialising in English, Spanish and German. Paolo has already been introduced to the world of wool as a child through his grandfather who worked in the textile industry his whole life. Paolo’s personal interests outside of work are health and fitness. He also enjoys discovering new cultures and habits, mainly from watching and reading. He says about himself that he is always curious and always willing to try and experience new things. 

Paolo was interested in joining the Schneider Group team as a Junior Trader because of the opportunity of working and travelling at the same time (in non-pandemic times) while also getting to know new people. So far, Paolo has been learning how wool is processed from the farm to the final product, from the beginning to the end. Thanks to his colleagues, he feels he is learning new things about wool every day, and he feels very lucky to be working with colleagues who are so experienced in wool production and sales. 

Wool Connect Conference Report 2020

More Consensus Needed – Wool Connect Online Conference Concludes

 

On 06-08 October 2020, the Wool Connect Online Grower conference took place with over 750 people watching either live or via on-demand recordings. Over the course of the three days of the conference, a total of 32 speakers presented during 2-hour sessions that included time for questions and an online debate via the available chat function. Attendees signed up from all major wool growing countries including Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay, the UK, and the USA. 

 

Each day over 220 attendees took part in the event live. Some wool growers from the Falkland Islands, the USA, Argentina, and Uruguay even attended the event live despite the conference taking place during the middle of the night local time. For those not able to attend the conference, recordings were made available afterward in English and Spanish and are still available to view via the wool connect online platform to everyone purchasing a ticket

Speakers from the entire wool supply chain and related stakeholder groups held 10-minute long presentations. The content focused on defining future market requirements and opportunities for wool in relation to sustainability, animal welfare, and traceability. 

 

The elephants in the room

During his opening remarks, The Schneider Group CEO, Giovanni Schneider, pointed out that he became concerned with sustainability within our industry at a very young age and that he “was excited when last year 250 companies decided to sign the ​Fashion Pact in Biarritz (France), committing on three very important environmental goals by 2030: the first one is stopping global warming, second restoring biodiversity and the third one is protecting the oceans”. He also felt very pleased with the quality of the content that the “amazing speakers” gathered for the conference would bring forward and “honoured” by the number of people joining Wool Connect. Finally Giovanni anticipated that it would be a controversial conference since it would address “the two big elephants in the room: sustainability and animal welfare”.

Acknowledge what is

Overall, the goal of the conference was to create an unfiltered dialogue between retailers, processors, and other industry stakeholders sparking much-needed consensus.  Acknowledging and openly discussing discrepancies between wool supply and demand was the starting point for this first edition of Wool Connect.  Main discussions revolved around topics such as the increasing requirements for non-mulesed wool, sustainable production, sequestering carbon emissions, biodiversity, certifications, and traceability.

Certification overload

The point raised by Marta Maniero from Marzotto exposed the high number of certification schemes available in the market and the complexity this brings for growers and processors alike. The number of times this issue was raised by speakers and discussed among attendees initiated further discussions among certification scheme owners after the conference evidences the need to find a joint and simple solution to the certification jungle. Point taken and progress will be revised in Wool Connect 2021.

Mulesing is not a binary discussion

On the topic of mulesing the conference highlighted the increasing demand for non-mulesed wool due to brand pledges to phase out mulesing by a certain date in the near future. Heinz Zeller, Principal Sustainability at Hugo Boss pleaded for a “stronger move towards the production of mulesing-free wool to reach a better acceptance of wool among consumers”.

The key take away was that the mulesing debate is not a binary one. By hearing the voices of brands like Ermenegildo Zegna, Kering, Hugo Boss, Muji and Armedangels, wool producers as well as animal welfare organisations such as Four Paws and HSI, it became clear that a new and decisive approach is needed. A sustainable solution for all parties involved can only be found through dialogue, mutual understanding as well as consensus building among all stakeholders. Hopefully, the fact that for the first time growers and animal welfare organisations have shared the same (virtual) room is already a big step in the right direction. 

An increasing number of issues 

Retailers presenting their sustainability strategies indicated that mulesing is not the only concern for them when it comes to wool. Other requirements towards wool growers have been expressed such as focusing on sustainable productions, carbon emission, and biodiversity.  The increase in complexity that retailers face as consumer expectations shift is nothing more than a multiplicity of opportunities to generate value for wool disguised as challenges. The commitment and passion for wool expressed by most speakers shouldn’t go unnoticed nor given for granted.

Storytelling is key

Last but not least the importance of communications and storytelling repeatedly came up as one of the opportunities for the industry to tell the beautiful stories wool has to offer in a more proactive way. Michel Mastio, Segment Director Hosiery and Circular Knitting Yarns at Südwolle Group even described their business as “selling services and stories, not only yarns”. Furthermore, comments by speakers and attendees included the need to better educate and communicate about the many good industry practices and high animal welfare standards.  

Stop the blame-game

Within the heated discussions during and after the conference attendees felt the urge to blame certain industry bodies or industry stakeholders as to why and how we got to where we are today particularly on the mulesing debate. However, Wool Connect is not about identifying the culprit as we all got to where we are together. The wool industry is an interconnected system that reacts and depends on each other. Wool Connect wants to put the focus on the future by acknowledging the challenges, creating dialogue, and building consensus on the best way forward for everyone involved. 

It’s all about the money – or is it?

Another question raised several times among attendees within the discussion was about who will pay for all the certifications and extra work required to meet retail demands? What is the right perspective on this? Are we talking about costs or about creating value? One takeaway of the conference was that sustainability needs to be easy and comprehensive for all involved and create tangible value. Whatever solution moves away from these principles is unlikely to succeed in the market. Thomas Moe, Senior Product Director at Salewa, described this as “green business, where everybody in the supply chain needs to earn money”. 

This was also a topic addressed by speaker Gunter Pauli who said that running businesses on efficiency and cost-cutting is no longer going to work. Businesses of the 21 century need to be able to sustain themselves which means taking care of people, the planet, and profit. This is easier said than done but also indicates that market economics as we know it can no longer continue. Covid-19 has been a magnifying glass on this issue over the past months and new concepts such as the doughnut economy and new tax systems are being developed under a higher stage of modern capitalism.

 

Next edition in 2021

Wool Connect was a spontaneous event that was born out of the idea to organise a small internal meeting for Authentico registered wool growers only. The idea, however, morphed quickly into a global conference available to all wool growers. The short time frame taken to organise the event posed some limitations to the content. The goal of this first Wool Connect edition was to clearly call out and acknowledge the existing challenges within the wool industry. The concluding message given by Willy Gallia, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Schneider Group, and team lead of the event, was the importance of finding consensus among all wool supply chain actors as this could only achieve progress and value for all. Creating more opportunities for dialogue and consensus-building will be the goal for the next Wool Connect conference in 2021. 

 

We thank all sponsors supporting the Wool Connect conference. In particular, we thank Control Union for supporting the event as Gold sponsor.

To-get-there Together 2030

The Schneider Group Sustainability Strategy

Combating Climate change through joint action across the wool industry supply chain.

Together 2030

‘Together 2030’ is the Sustainability Strategy of The Schneider Group, which sets clear Science Based Targets to combat climate change. In order to successfully implement the Together 2030 strategy, the Schneider Group has developed activities and projects in two areas: 1) industrial emissions reduction within all Schneider Group industrial plants and offices and 2) wool supply chain collaboration through the Authentico Integrity Scheme and beyond. 

Time is running – Actions taken so far

The year 2030 is a timeframe that is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the respective 1.5 degree Celsius scenario defined by the UN IPCC. The year 2030 may still seem far away, but with climate change, the whole world is running against the clock, and only actions taken as early as possible will take the needed effect. We have always taken the environment into account and therefore our mills are already to the highest international standards but we needed to coordinate at group level the strategies for bigger impact and to create the right culture of internal collaboration and awareness that we need to give our biggest effort to tackle this endeavour. Only openness, quality data, determination and teamwork can get us there, TOGETHER.

Establishing what is through Life Cycle Assessment

To find our starting point, we decided to perform a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for our production, and our wool top. This led to measuring the impact of all our six mills – 4 wool and 2 cashmere mills – as well as the farming stage. Within the LCA we focused on the four most relevant indicators for our operations: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water stewardship, and land occupation.

Starting point: 750.000 tonnes of CO2e

In a nutshell, the biggest issue is that for all the wool tops we produce each year as a Group, we emit in the order of 750.000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Out of this, roughly 35.000 tonnes are from transporting the wool to our mills and processing it; whilst 715.000 tonnes are allocated to the wool production. Yes, amazingly 4,6% of the impact of GHG (greenhouse gases) is for industry and 95,4% for farming, according to current measuring methodologies; which we also strive to modify as an industry because they do not account for user phase and end of life phases nor for externalities such as microplastics nor oil leaks.  However, we need to do our homework and assume responsibilities.  To put things into perspective, according to recent studies from the EU the yearly emission per capita is 4,97 tonnes of CO2e. So The Schneider Group’s processing would equate to a town the size of Kawerau, Huntly or Portland (roughly 7.000 inhabitants); whereas the emissions allocated to the production of the greasy wool consumed by the group on yearly basis would be Geelong or Tauranga (roughly 143.000 inhabitants) in comparison.

Creation of Chief Sustainability Officer Position

In September 2020, we also created the position of the Chief Sustainability Officer which is carried out by Willy Gallia. This was an important step for the Group to fully integrate sustainability within our business structures and allow our teams and business units to better work together towards our sustainability goals.

Official commitment through Science Based Targets

On 14 April 2020, The Schneider Group officially committed to set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions to keep a rise in global temperature to well below 2°C by joining the Science Based Target initiative.

We identified that science-based targets are the most demanding, precise and measurable target setting tools available. By committing to the Science Based Targets we want to hold ourselves accountable to the most serious and relevant sustainability credentials any company could aim for. While our commitment will not be a walk in the park, science-based targets will enable us to measure exactly where we stand and help us identify in which areas of the business we can create the most effective changes.  It was TOGETHER through science and determination that we managed to win the battle against ozone depletion and we firmly believe this is the precise road that can lead us to win the battle against climate change.

Joining Climate Action Network

Over the past years, we connected with relevant organisations such as UNFCCC, UNECE, Textile Exchange and the IWTO Sustainable Practices Working Group. Just like our strategy name Together 2030, we believe that the necessary change needed in order to combat climate change and to ensure a sustainable future can only be achieved by joining forces and finding consensus. We therefore invest our people, time and resources into the organisations that share our goals. At the same time we also create our own network and provide a platform for collaboration through our Authentico and Wool Connect initiatives. 

Integrity Scheme Authentico

Already in 2018, we launched the Authentico Integrity Scheme for wool and cashmere fibre. Authentico certified wool for example is mulesing-free merino wool grown to the highest standards by over 650 wool growers based in Australia, New Zealand and Argentina with more grower countries to join in the future.  Authentico wool can be traced from farm all the way through the wool supply chain of all Schneider Group mills with Blockchain technology. Furthermore, Authentico’s aim is not only to create a transparent supply chain but also tell the beautiful stories of growing wool and carry the intangibles up to the end users. 

Wool Connect Grower Conference

Another initiative under the umbrella Together 2030 is the Wool Connect grower conference. The three day online event invites all wool growers and supply chain partners to exchange knowledge and solutions to start building consensus that will allow us to work together to fight climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the wool industry which is also a healthier, more lucrative business for all.  Only by collective action can we achieve the industry standards and positioning that we all aim for: TOGETHER.  

The Schneider Group appoints Willy Gallia as First Chief Sustainability Officer

New position created as part of the group’s sustainability strategy

The Schneider Group, a global wool, cashmere, and other premium natural fibres processor, has appointed Willy Gallia as the company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), effective as of 1 September 2020.

‘More than ever, sustainability is a key element interwoven into the DNA of the Schneider Group’, explains CEO Giovanni Schneider. ‘The environmental and social challenges the world faces today such as climate change, microplastic pollution, or desertification is a reality we as a society can no longer ignore nor tolerate. As a business, we, therefore, committed ourselves to take action and align our business goals with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.’

Based on this SDG alignment, the Schneider Group launched its Sustainability Strategy 2030 earlier this year. ‘We have set ourselves challenging goals such as committing to Science Based Targets and becoming climate neutral by the year 2030. Creating a CSO position is therefore a logical step that confirms our commitment and enables us to reach our goals’, explains Managing Director, Jeffrey Losekoot.

Willy Gallia already joined the Schneider Group as Sustainability Manager in the Biella office one year ago. He is, however, not new to the business as he already worked for the company’s Argentinian wool business Fuhrmann Argentina for 15 years. In his role, Willy Gallia is responsible for implementing the sustainability strategy throughout the group. He also oversees the Authentico Integrity Scheme, Life Cycle Assessment work, and stakeholder outreach.

The Schneider Group’s sustainability efforts are in line with the general textile and fashion industry’s push towards a more transparent, traceable, and sustainable supply chain. Many well-known fashion brands and retailers have set similar SDG related goals. Progress, however, can only be made and ambitious goals achieved if the entire textile fibre supply chain is equally committed. This is also why The Schneider Group launched its Authentico Integrity Scheme in 2018 as it enables the wool and cashmere supply chain to work jointly on pressing sustainability issues from farm to retail.

Cradle-to-Grave Wool LCA Published in Leading Journal

First Full Wool LCA Reveals Importance of Use Phase – IWTO funded study confirms

Wrapping up seven years of work, the wool industry’s first full cradle-to-grave wool life cycle assessment (LCA) was published in May 2020.

The study examines the environmental impacts of a 300-gram wool sweater over the course of its lifetime, from the farm in Australia to processing and finishing in China, to sale in the EU market.

Top among the findings is the importance of how often a garment is worn, and how long it is actively used.

Clothes that are worn more often and used for longer reduce the impacts generated by their manufacture, the researchers found. It’s the same rationale as the one against single-use plastics.

Learn more about the IWTO findings, and download the study, on iwto.org/first-full-wool-lca/.

Life Cycle Assessments are an important tool to measure the environmental impacts of the wool supply chain and start benchmarking efforts for improvement. At The Schneider Group we have also developed LCA studies within our own supply chain to ensure we understand our impacts and can work towards becoming a climate-neutral business and achieving our climate action goals.  You can read more about our own efforts here.

The Quest for Organic Lanolin

Managing Director Ralf Kunert of Naturamus explains what can be achieved when creating partnerships across industries.

One of the by-products of scouring (washing) wool is wool grease, which is refined into lanolin. Lanolin is an important raw material for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry as it forms the basis for lipsticks and creams.

Naturamus specializes in sourcing natural organic raw materials such as lanolin. Naturamus is part of WALA, a German-based company in the natural cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry founded in 1935.

Cross-industry collaboration

In 2016, Naturamus partnered with our business Fuhrmann Argentina to create an innovative product that had never existed before: Organic Lanolin. Both partners brought different expertise to the table. Naturamus offered insights from the consumer market and the requirements of the cosmetic industry and Fuhrmann Argentina had the organic on-farm and processing expertise.

We talked to Naturamus Managing Director Ralf Kunert about his mission of sourcing organic raw materials and the partnership with our business Fuhrmann Argentina.

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Going above the highest standards

The partnership and direct dialogue between Fuhrmann Argentina and Naturamus enabled the Fuhrmann team to identify exactly what could be done in order to meet the high requirements of the organic cosmetic industry from the farm stage. While the Fuhrmann managed farms as well as the mill, both meet all the GOTS organic standard requirements for primary production and wool processing, the small concentrated amounts of chemicals still contained in the wool grease were above the accepted level for an organic lanolin product destined for skincare products. The challenge for the Fuhrmann Argentina team was, therefore, to identify which processes within the wool production could be changed in such a way that animal welfare and quality standards could still be met while also reducing allowed chemical traces in the organic lanolin product.

On-farm, the identified solution lay in doing the routine health checks at a different point in time of the year or even avoiding the use of certain drugs approved by the organic standard of primary production. This change in animal welfare management ensures that chemical traces vanish from the lanolin when the wool is shorn and the sheep can stay healthy as always.
In the mill, improvements were made in the way wool lots were separated into different lots for processing to ensure the organic lanolin stays pure.

Once the lanolin leaves the Fuhrmann Argentina mill, it is sent to a refining mill Inquimec in Buenos Aires for filtering and purifying. Based on the collaboration, Inquimec refining mill also achieved the certification of organic status in its process. It is as far as we know, the only company in the world that has certified this organic process.
From Argentina, the lanolin is shipped to Naturamus in Germany where it gets filtered one additional time. The final result is a 100% organic lanolin product ready to create the most natural cosmetic products the world has to offer.

The Schneider Group joins the Science Based Target initiative

Commitment to set company-wide emission targets in line with climate science

On 14 April 2020, The Schneider Group officially committed to set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions to keep a rise in global temperature to well below 2°C by joining the Science Based Target initiative.

The environment and Covid-19

The Schneider Group’s Science Based Targets initiative commitment has been officially announced on the initiative’s website in mid-April 2020 while the whole world is still battling with the  Covid-19 pandemic. The Schneider Group and its employees around the world have also been impacted by the pandemic and it is yet to be seen how and when we will jointly emerge from this global spanning crisis. 

Nevertheless, even in these socially and financially difficult times, it is important to not forget the third equation of the triple bottom line of a business: the environment. Ironically during the Covid-19 pandemic, carbon emissions are low as travel and production have been extremely restricted. Immediately we see positive effects for the environment as for the first time in over 30 years it is possible to view the Himalayas in plain sight. 

More than ever, it is clear that the industry, including the wool industry, needs to find solutions to create a high level of economic value with a low output of carbon emissions and high attention in animal welfare to ensure economic and social stability within society while also ensuring a healthy planet for our society to live on. 

This is why even in these severe times, it is important for businesses to continue working on setting and implementing targets to lower their carbon emissions. This is the only way to ensure that together we reach the international goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees C to avoid the most dangerous consequences of climate change. The Science Based Targets initiative’s Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach helps determine how much a company needs to cut its own emissions in order to contribute to the goal. By joining the Science Based Targets initiative, The Schneider Group is doing its part to battle Climate Change.  

As society settles into a new normal with the virus Covid-19 being a part of it we also have the opportunity to change how we live, play and work for the better of us and our planet. 

Why have we committed to set a science-based target (rather than another target)?

Over the past years, we educated ourselves, connected with relevant organisations and established internal structures in order to continue challenging ourselves to reduce our own company-wide footprint. Through this process, we identified that science-based targets are the most demanding, precise and measurable target setting tools available. We wanted to hold ourselves accountable to the most serious and relevant sustainability credentials any company could aim for. We also wanted to leave no room for green-washing and not leave a backdoor open to wiggle ourselves out when things get hard. While our commitment will not be a walk in the park, science-based targets will enable us to measure exactly where we stand and help us identify in which areas of the business we can create the most effective changes. 

Why is taking climate action important to The Schneider Group? 

At The Schneider Group, we source, process and supply wool and natural fibres to assist our customers in producing sustainable, fully traceable, high-quality products. We believe in a future where all wool and other animal fibres are sustainable, ethically sourced and traceable. This is why we made sustainability a strategic priority for all our activities and are continuously investing in the following strategic areas: Raising animal welfare standards, reducing carbon emissions and overall impact; and applying traceable technology.

Our commitment to the Science Based Target initiative falls of course under the strategic area of reducing carbon emissions and overall impact.  

What benefits do we anticipate after setting a science-based target?

The first most important benefit of setting science-based targets is that it enables us to actually achieve our vision of a future where all wool and other animal fibres are sustainable, ethically sourced and traceable. In addition, science-based targets will help us identify exactly where we are in our journey of achieving our vision and what the next steps are that we must take. It will help us anticipate possible threats on the road and help us innovate together with all supply chain partners involved to find solutions on how we can turn these threats into opportunities. These opportunities will be good for the planet as well as for all supply chain partners involved.  Through our own Authentico Integrity Scheme, we already have a system in place that will let us work closely with woolgrowers and brokers on achieving the set targets. Last but not least we hope that we can set an example and inspire other companies to join us on this journey. 

What do we think the challenges might be and how do we plan to overcome them?

Challenges we anticipate revolve around the reduction of carbon emissions at scope 3 of our supply chain, meaning our suppliers; which are the growers around the world. We already know from conducting a Life Cycle Assessment that carbon emissions at the farming stage will be a challenge that we cannot tackle on our own. This is why we are already engaging ourselves in the global wool community of carbon emission professionals looking at this stage of the wool supply chain. In addition, we will be working directly with wool growers through our Authentico Integrity Scheme in order to work on solutions on how to reduce carbon emissions jointly. 

For more information about Science Based Targets initiative visit https://sciencebasedtargets.org/

 

Life Cycle Assessment at The Schneider Group

How to define and create a Sustainable Wool Business?

As society is combatting climate change, businesses around the world are contributing through the development and implementation of their own sustainability strategies. Unfortunately, sustainability is a very broad word, surrounded by subjectivity in most cases. At The Schneider Group, we didn’t want to be trivial about it so we searched for facts and figures. The first step in this long journey is to know where we stand in order to know where we need to go and what steps we need to take in order to get there.

Establishing what is through Life Cycle Assessment

To find our starting point, we decided to perform a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for our production, and our wool top. This led to measuring the impact of all our six mills – 4 wool and 2 cashmere mills – as well as the farming stage. Within the LCA we focused on the four most relevant indicators for our operations: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water stewardship, and land occupation.

Starting point: 750.000 tonnes of CO2e

In a nutshell, the biggest issue is that for all the wool tops we produce each year as a Group, we emit in the order of 750.000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Out of this, roughly 35.000 tonnes are from transporting the wool to our mills and processing it; whilst 715.000 tonnes are allocated to the wool production. Yes, amazingly 4,6% of the impact of GHG (greenhouse gases) is for industry and 95,4% for farming. To put things into perspective, according to recent studies from the EU the yearly emission per capita is 4,97 tonnes of CO2e. So The Schneider Group’s processing would equate to a town the size of Kawerau, Huntly or Portland (roughly 7.000 inhabitants); whereas the emissions allocated to the production of the greasy wool consumed by the group on yearly basis would be Geelong or Tauranga (roughly 143.000 inhabitants) in comparison.

Need for accurate methodologies

Based on ongoing wool LCA research by the IWTO, the methodologies of how on-farm impacts are calculated are inaccurate.  We are therefore actively supporting various industry bodies such as the IWTO Sustainable Practices Working Group, UNFCCC, UNECE, and others – to correct these wrong calculations before the laws are made regarding emissions. We believe climate change is the next big frontier we will have to tackle as an industry. It is up to us to let it become a risk factor to our businesses or to turn this into an opportunity for all. We are absolutely sure that growers will be innovating to bring the answers to the table and we will take them to all the stakeholders, including big brands. Proactivity will be key and at The Schneider Group we will start proposing initiatives in the near future around this particular topic.

We are aware that the wool industry already has had a slow start around this subject. The result of this slow start can be seen by looking at the current impact assessment methodology rating farming negatively. However, we have the determination and above all, the conviction that wool and farming is here to save the world. We need to start sitting at the table so we can stop being on the menu.

Read more about sustainability at The Schneider Group here.