Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the most commonly used process for evaluating the environmental performance of products. When undertaken thoroughly, LCA measures the use of natural resources, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other impacts made during a product’s lifespan.
LCA plays an important role in establishing comprehensive environmental measurements for products and materials, when considered alongside other factors.
In evaluating wool, LCAs typically assess four life cycle stages:
- On farm
- Processing and manufacturing
- Use phase
- End of life.
The wool industry is a strong supporter of using robust LCA methodology as a key part of the environment assessment process. The compelling sustainability benefits of wool include:
- Naturally renewable
- Readily recycled
- Low cost of care.
Looking at these factors, wool performs well from a sustainability point of view at every stage of a garment’s life cycle. However, many established LCA methods are inadequate and fail to thoroughly or accurately evaluate wool. The IWTO and partners are working to help organisations improve LCA processes, while also strongly advocating for other characteristics of wool to be taken into account when measuring its overall environmental impact.