On Swedish Wool
Australia, China, Poland, Italy, Romania, Tunisia and finally Sweden – these together add up to a distance of approx. 24,000 km, which is what a normal supply chain looks like when making a wool product today. Each year, up to 70% of all Swedish wool ends up being thrown away, mostly as a by-product from the meat industry. According to Axfoundation, 1,650 tonnes of wool was imported from all around the world in 2019. Meanwhile, 1,200 tonnes of wool was actually produced in Sweden, but only 37% ended up being used.
Wool is a bio-based and renewable protein fiber with unique properties that contribute to its lasting effects. It naturally helps regulate body temperature, transport moisture and is resistant to odors and staining. It is antibacterial, flame-resistant, has self-cleaning abilities and doesn’t require as many washes compared to other materials, hence airing out wool products is usually recommended. Pure wool is biodegradable within a few months to a year and can provide nutrition to the soil if spread out in nature. Wool’s natural properties make it less dependent on chemicals such as PFAS or biocides and are many times not needed in the production. This contributes to more circular material flows.
A New Sweden and Filippa K are companies which, through their initiatives with Swedish wool, have been able to reduce their supply chain to one-fifth of before. This doesn’t only help reducing the carbon footprint. In addition, it also helps with ensuring the living standards for the animals where the wool is taken from, with Sweden having the highest welfare requirements in the world.
In 2020, Filippa K alongside several other companies, started a project together with Axfoundation called The Swedish Wool Initiative with the main vision of having 0% of Swedish wool turned into waste. In this process, Filippa K worked together with Ullkontoret on the Swedish island of Gotland, who buys and sells wool from Swedish farms, providing companies with services such as washing, drying and pressing. Processes usually made in countries such as China.
We’re currently lacking market conditions in order to make Swedish wool available on an industrial scale. Cooperation and practical solutions are needed throughout the entire supply chain to create the conditions required to establish a larger-scale wool production in Sweden. However, with the already high demands on finding renewable and less resource-intensive materials, wool is very likely to regain its place in the spotlight among other circular fibers becoming popular today.
Do you want to know more about Swedish wool?
Axfoundation and The Swedish Wool Initiative:
Filippa K and Swedish wool:
A New Sweden: