Grant Edwards joins The Country’s Jamie Mackay to look at the wool market this month.
The market dropped around 25 per cent post lockdown, and another 10 per cent in June. Mackay wondered if this was raising concerns.
Currently the international climate was in unprecedented times, with some countries still in lockdown, and this put things into perspective, Edwards said.
Recent sales in Napier and Christchurch had lifted the market, providing some potential light at the end of the tunnel, Edwards said.
Cavalier Corporation had announced it was committed to all wool and natural fibres in its carpets which was also good news, Mackay said.
In addition, Mackay highlighted from the press release, that 15-20 per cent of carpet sales in New Zealand are made from wool.
Edwards stressed there was a need to increase consumer demand and drive the wool story to the public. Mackay disagreed, saying the wool story had been around and the focus should be more on end uses and consumer products.
Edwards believed there was a need for a government body to market wool internationally from a combined industry effort. But there was a need for a robust plan throughout the industry to have the confidence to invest in this.
Edwards concluded the interview with a couple of pertinent quotes he'd found in 1950s media cuttings.
The first illustrated that concerns over natural fibres being replaced by synthetics were nothing new.
"The greatest threat to the wool industry is synthetics and crossbred wool is the easiest supplanted."
The second quote however, could offer the modern-day farmer hope for the future.
"There is no substance to the reports that synthetics could put the wool industry out of business."
Findings from a new study further demonstrates the eco-credentials of natural fibres.
Recently reported research, undertaken by AgResearch and funded by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), showed that both machine-washable and untreated wool fibres readily biodegrade in the marine environment, in contrast to synthetic fibres that do not.
Each year between 0.6 and 1.7 million tons of microfibres are estimated to enter the oceans, much of it shed when synthetic textile apparel is laundered; a growing concern for brands and consumers.
Previous studies show that wool biodegrades in the sea. This new study measured its rate of biodegradation relative to competing fibres, and the residues produced. One of the main objectives was to test the theory that machine-washable wool, treated with a polyamide resin to prevent it felting might create a form of microplastic pollution.
Six fibre types from comparable lightweight base-layer fabrics were studied over a 90-day trial period. These included machine washable and untreated Merino wool, viscose rayon derived from plant sources and three synthetic fibres: polyester, nylon and polypropylene. Residues from each were examined using scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy.
Results showed that both wool types biodegrade to a high degree, as does the cellulose-based viscose rayon, while synthetic fibres show little or no biodegradation. Further, the application of a thin polyamide film to make wool machine-washable actually caused the wool to biodegrade quicker than untreated wool, probably because the treatment removes some of the fibre’s cuticle, rendering it more susceptible to microbial degradation.