Don’t forget about the niche
When Carpet Recycling UK was knocking on doors back in 2007 looking for like-minded people for support the world was a different place.
Diesel engines were eco-friendly. Nylon was cheaper than wool as the oil was never going to run out. The iPhone had a 3% market share and Google was just a search engine.
Wool carpets were considered natural and therefore sustainable.
When it came to sustainability most of the carpet industry had their heads in the sand. Our little niche brand Laneve™ was launched for products that only contained 100% natural fibre. We knew the circular economy was going to be important, so we made a start.
Roll on 12 years
Apple become the biggest company in the world, for a while.
Hybrid cars arrived in the west and started breaking our dependency on oil. It turns out oil is kind of running out. Fast fashion products and plastic is choking our planet. How did we not see that coming? Asia is sending North America and Europe its plastic waste back, it seems it does not go away by shipping it offshore.
The majority of consumers do not think about sustainability when purchasing carpets or flooring. We still put 20% micro-plastic into wool carpets, back them with latex and claim they are natural. We write blogs and opinion pieces about sustainability but take no action. Ironic eh.
The industry has not performed well so the legislation will need to be introduced to force action. The government has stalled while it tries to please all the people all the time and has taken its foot off the eco pedal.
What did Wools of New Zealand do in the last 12 years?
We got started. Ulster, Crucial Trading, Camira Fabrics, Greendale and even Starbucks all launched Laneve products.
- Anglo Recycling and Wools of New Zealand developed Crumbwool underlay from off-cuts and we still send the proceeds to the Woodland trust.
- Solidwool helped us turn post-industrial carpet waste into chairs.
- Laneve wool has been certified under GOTS, EU-EcoLabel, The Responsible Wool Standard and has helped one partner achieve Cradle to Cradle Gold.
- Marks and Spencer have used Laneve wool for their very 1st fully traceable menswear range.
- John Lewis & partners have listed Wools of New Zealand as their preferred material based on our progressive farming methods and our transparency.
- Hypnos Beds have used our wool to create a range of carbon neutral beds that are taken back and fully recycled.
Where to next?
The new big trends are circularity, sustainability, health and wellbeing. They are just a little late.
This is where our hero fibre, wool comes into its own.
Wool, being awesome, can create a safer environment for people and is 100% rapidly renewable. Wool carpets absorb VOC’s, will not burn below 680 degrees, and if they do burn, give off significantly less toxic smoke than synthetic fibres. Wool controls humidity in a room, traps dust out of the breathing zone and absorbs noise.
Due to our previously mentioned progressive methodology, our wool grown in New Zealand wool has 30% less greenhouse gas contribution than wool grown in Europe.
Our farmers are planting trees. The New Zealand government plans to plant one billion trees by 2018.
Our new Glacial XT fibre does not use excessive bleach and is proven to dye more efficiently saving even more carbon. This year we will launch our very first hybrid of Glacial XT and botanical fibre carpet in order to switch Millennials onto natural fibres and help cut their dependency on oil.
We worked with the UK Fashion Council, Burberry and the University of Leeds to help create the Future Fashion Factory. Through this we will roll out Industry 4.0 i and deliver digital tools for circular product design and traceability.
This year we are launching our wool benefits educational programme which will gave influencers the scientific truth about wool as a Planet Friendly, People Friendly and Style Friendly choice.
This little niche fibre can save us. We have to start building truly natural products. We have to find ways to upcycle post-consumer carpets.
What is currently a niche fibre has the potential to become a staple fibre, pun intended.
The ability to recycle re-use and even up-cycle a carpet fibre is massively important. There is still an industry-wide failure to design for recycling. The health and wellbeing of the people in our homes and our workplaces is also important. Properly designed wool carpets last longer, have less impact on the environment and benefit human health.
We are really proud to have been part of Carpet Recycling UK since its inception, there is still a lot to do.
Wools of New Zealand