Wool has a global future thanks to education, new data and sustainable applications

Wool has a global future thanks to education,new data and sustainable applications

The IWTO, the International Wool Textile Organisation held the Wool Round Table in Biella, Italy from November 28-29, 2016. All actual and future aspects of wool were discussed and it attracted more than 120 members of the international wool community at Citta Studi

TextileFuture attended also and was impressed by the new worldwide aim to increase the market share of wool in such applications as the outdoor sector. The key seems to be the education of Young Wool Professionals and Wool Sheep Farmers, investment along the value chain and more data available on wool to prove that the natural fibre offers not only versatility but also sustainability.

Speaker EmilyThe Round Table event entailed the development of a wool education programme with the participation of Prof Ellen Bendt from Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences and the topic of Wool in Knitwear Design in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Her colleague Prof Sandra Hefferrnan, School of Design, University of New Zealand covered Wool in Textile Design and Dr. Beverley Henry from Queensland University of Technology and Wool, Australia, spoke on Wool in Environment Science. Prof Paul Kiekens, from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Ghent, Belgium presented the E-Team, A Genuine European Master Programme for Advanced Studies in Textiles and Clothing (Wool in Textile Engineering. The aspect of Wool Trade Education was presented by Emily King, Manager, Woolgrower Extension & Adoption, Australian Wool Innovation.

Speaker Citta StudiErmanno Rondi, Vice President delegated to Innovation and Education, Coordinator of the Education Board of Confindustria, Biella Industrial Union explained what is done for Wool in Innovation and Education.

The second day of the Wool Round Table was destined to Wool in Retail, Opportunities for Growth and started with discussions with representatives of young wool growers, processors, manufacturers and retailers. Stephanus van der Heever, Grootaar CC, Duncan Campbell, Earnscleugh, New Zealand and David and Angie Waters, Tarrangower Merinos Australia explained the Challenges and Opportunities in Farming with Wool in wool growing countries.

An excellent apercu delivered Dr Pamela Ravasio, Head of CSR & Sustainability of the European Outdoor Group, posing also some critical questions about animal welfare and sustainability of wool. Her topic was Wool and the Outdoor Industry: an Outside in Perspective. Prisca Rolando, Product Manager of Lanieri, Italy presented the company’s e-commerce business by development of a special platform to allow customers to order made-to-measure Italian wool suits online, under the topic of Wool in Bespoke Pamela-Ravasio-2Tailoring. Another interesting speaker was Lorenzo Dovesi, COO of Italian Benetton Group since March 2016.

Also some time was employed to an update on Wool LCA from the IWTO Sustainable Practices Group by Angus Ireland, IWTO Sustainable Practices Group Chairman and Dr Beverley Henry, Queensland University of Technology and Wool lCA TAG. The newly developed IWT0 Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare opened a vivid discussion among the participants of different sectors.

Some highlights of the IWTO Round Table

IWTO President Peter Ackroyd, he stated: “We have a central message in wool:Stage discussion Peter, Ellen and Susan sustainability and environmental excellence. The woolgrowing countries are dedicated to education; the question is how can we carry this forward to the full benefit of students and industry.”

Educators underlined the need for corporate investment in industry-led research projects, where government funding currently falls short. These types of collaborations, educators say, are necessary in order to develop the skills that are relevant to the future of the industry. IWTO committed to the educators present to continue the focus on education in future events and proposed special rates and working groups to support wool textile education going forward.

Participants also heard from young woolgrowers farming in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The challenges and opportunities for economic growth through wool sheep farming were evident in all presentations, along with a true commitment to eco-friendly farming practices, including the animal welfare. Passion for the land they manage and the animals they live with stood out as a common element across all three wool growing countries. On the other hand, it was evidenced that also economic factors are decisive that wool growers can continue their businesses. In addition the climate changes (drought) and the growing pressure for ecological advancements were underlined.

The audience heard from the European Outdoor Group how outdoor apparel brands would like to incorporate more wool in the next-to-skin base layers, a key segment of the outdoor apparel market. This market values the benefits wool-on-skin can bring to their customers, but need the wool chain to supply hard and fast evidence of sustainability, best practice in animal welfare and eco-friendly farming practices, before committing to growth in this area. 

Then outdoor industry sees itself – as is seen by consumers – as a steward of the environment, explained Dr Pamela Ravasio, Head of SCR and Sustainability for the European Outdoor Group. The European Outdoor Group has actually 94 members, thereof two thirds are brands and one third represents retailers and technology partners.

The market can be had from the three tables below

Ravasio 1

Ravasio 2

Ravasio 3

Details to the sourcing market can be taken from the table following

Ravasio 4


Ravasio invited the audience to collaborate extensively with the European Outdoor Group for mutual benefits and allowing wool to make a greater inroad in outdoor applications.

Ravasio 5

Ravasio 6

Sustainability was also the focus of a presentation by Lorenzo Dovesi, COO of Benetton Group, who shared Benetton’s vision of a wool-rich future, moving away from the fast-fashion model.


TextileFuture’s favourite presentations 

Evidently all of the speakers were excellent with their respective topic of their papers.

However, we would like to let you know the favourite presentations, because these contained the most forward looking perspectives. 

Woolres, a Wool Recycle Eco System

The original idea was submitted by Luciano Donatelli, CEO of Sign Box/RBP and President of the Unione Industriale Biellese. It came to light because of the disastrous oil leak from BP’s oil platform Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. It reminded Donatelli of the water repellent property of coarse wool, and, at the same time its capacity to absorb oil in quantities 10 times superior to its own weight.

In 2010, when repeated failure to block the millions of barrels continuing to pour into the Gulf of Mexico was reported, also creating an enormous eco-environmental disaster on the coasts of Florida and Texas, Donatelli having worked with wool for ages and knowing properties well, asked Mauro Rosetti, Director of the Biella Textile and Health Association to interrupt his holidays in order to check the possibilities of taking technical advantage of the property characteristics of wool.Woolres

The first test were made in Rosetti’s garage, then in a laboratory and Mario Ploner, Managing Director of Tecnomeccanica Biellese began, with a team of engfineers, planning a technological system, grade on different levels capable of recuperating the oil poured into the water.

Technologies, machines and process were patented at that time by the company GCA Gruppo Creativi Associati. Two types of intervention were planned, one for huge disasters at sea and one for “small” leaks onto surface water, ports, lakes, and rivers.

In practice, the team was able, and in a fairly simple way to recuperate a good 950 t of oil, equal to 6350 barrels, with 10 t of geasy wool, because the wool can be sued at least ten times over.

A ship was designed for patent registration. It requires a tank capacity equal to a million litres and a hold for clean greasy wool equal to 10000 kg and a second covered hold below for the spent wool weighing around 28000 kg as it has some hydrocarbon in it which cannot be released under pressing, explains Mario Ploner.

Woolres Test results

Woolres shipsConsidering that the speed of the designed craft is five Knots and its width is around 10 metres, in one hour the surface covered will be equal to around a tenth of a square kilometre. In 10 hours one could intervene on a square kilometre. Supposing there is a thickness of 1mm of hydrocarbon on the sea’s surface, or a litre per square metre, in one square kilometre there might be a million litres recuperated. In 10 hours of work with 10000 kg of wool, one could collect a million litres of oil.

Once the wool has initially been used, it can be reused for at least a dozen consecutive operations, without diminishing its own properties for absorbing oil and, eventually it becomes an excellent combustible material, easily used in any waste-to-energy-incinerator. By using greasy wool of extreme fineness, or wool which has no industrial use, such as that produced in Italy, the sheep farmers, whose flocks yield solely milk, and, in a limited amount meat, would also benefit.Woolres test plant

Woolres is just about to sign the first larger contract for the clever system in Japan. A sustainable way to solve oil spilling – also chemicals – with grease wool.



The Benetton Case

Speaker Benetton 2The presentation by Lorenzo Dovesi, the COO of Benetton Group, made clear that the company is based on three historic pillars, namely Colours, Knit and Social Responsibility.

Dovesi told the audience in Biella, that he has been taking his time to follow-up the history of Benetton and that he spent quite some time browsing the archives of the company. Upon his initiative Benetton will be moving away from fast-fashion and is adding another pillar Quality.

A first move has already taken place. From state of the art knitting technology developed in its laboratories in Castrette, Treviso (Italy) comes Benetton’s TV31100, a new concept in pullovers. The fashion company’s new essential is a concentrate of Italian manufacturing expertise and tradition with an eco- sustainable touch and an ageless, cosmopolitan spirit.

Smooth, seamless, figure-hugging lines for a perfect fit, meticulous attention to detail, top quality yarns (90% merino and 10% cashmere), and a range of pure, versatile colours. A must-have basic piece to wear every day and everywhere TV31100 – the name is actually the postal code of the place where Benetton was founded way back in 1965 – is more than just your “usual” pullover. ”Benetton 2 TV 31...

The company has decided to pay homage to its very first pullover, and has brought back 36 knitting machines from Haiti to its Treviso headquarters to manufacture a totally Made in Italy product in- house.

Created with these intentions – all of which have been met – TV31100 is the sum of Benetton’s signature values of quality, comfort and colour, basic but perfectly made fashion content, timeless and right for everyone and for all occasions, from casual to formal.Benetton production in Treviso

Manufactured with Whole Garment Technology from Shima Seiki, a knitting technique that eliminates yarn wastage and with a reduced environmental impact, TV31100 is totally seamless for a perfect figure-hugging fit that allows the greatest freedom of movement.

In a limited edition the TV31100 for men and women is already available and comes in six colours – black, green, brick red, blue, purple and yellow.

Lorenzo Dovesi is enthusiastic on wool, and has presented the gradual change of wool use at Benetton with the following table (and from the view of the responsible for operations and a retailer who sees new possibilities with wool)

He presented also the advantages and weaknesses of wool:

Benetton 1

The changes in Benetton’s production

Benetton Wool trends in production


The Autumn Winter collection offers already some very trendy wool articles produced in the new seamless manner. Here are some examples:

 Benetton fall-winter 2017 2

                                     Benetton collection fall-winter 2017

Educational aspects

Speaker BeverleyDr Beverly Henry represented the Australian QUT Queensland University of Technology, a young Australian university teaching and researching with more than 45000 students, thereof 16 % are international students from 120 countries. Teaching strengths include Science, Engineering, Maths, Creative Industries, 88% of QUT research rated World Class or above. Cross discipline teaching and research, design and sustainability are the topics.


QUT means a Creative Industries Faculty > School of Design > Fashion. Since 2012, 700+ students have taken Sustainability: The Materiality of Fashion, on social and environmental issues in fashion production and consumption.

Research in fashion supply chains, fashion social entrepreneurship, design for sustainability is performed.

Science degrees

Science courses provide skills relevant to profitable and sustainable textile industries

Many different courses can lead to a career in wool and the environment

Environmental sustainability is a growing priority for science and textiles

Research & Careers

Cross-disciplinary studies is critical for big challenges facing wool:

Sustainable production in challenging landscapes

Measuring & managing environmental impacts + innovation for profitability

Communicating wool’s story


The work of Dr Henry entails:

A wide diversity in students, young post-docs and colleagues.

Livestock industries, soil science, nutrient cycling, greenhouse gases, spatial sciences, microbiology, isotopes, biodiversity, robotics, food & fibre, LCA, etc., etc.

Research collaborations around the world

Knowledge sharing with farmers, industry, NGOs & policy

Students have gone on to careers in industry, academia, agriculture, policy, environmental management


An example of a post graduate student:



Student needs in textile and environmental science:

Most students aim for a career that gives satisfaction, variety, a sense of contributing…and pays well
Students are concerned about the environment and very wary of ‘greenwashing’ and bias
Many students have a strong business sense and realise the importance of industry profitability
For textiles and science, the lectures and assignments need to relate to the ‘real world’
Show how environmental responsibility and sustainability issues are prominent for textiles
Need to help students see wool environmental science as an interesting and viable career

Possible career opportunities:

Do they know where to go to find science/textile internships?
Environment/science generally less targeted than design/fashion for textile internships
Are they aware of [science] career opportunities in wool?
Only a general awareness of agricultural science and R&D (Australian Wool Innovation; CSIRO).
How can we do this better?
As educators we need to link better with industry
Industry needs to engage to show the rewards of a career in wool and environmental science.

Your personal wish list for Wool Education?
1.            Students excited by the opportunities for truly cross-disciplinary studies in wool and environmental science
2.            More ‘bright young minds’ applied to the challenges of science + communication to show wool as a unique, natural & sustainable fibre.


Another example: E-Team at University of Gent, Belgium

Speaker Prof Kiekens from Ghent

Prof Paul Kiekens, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at the University of Gent is also the initiator of the E-Team, the European Masters Programme in Textile Engineering. This programme was initiated in 1998, and it is an international programme with a multidisciplinary approach with the participation of all major European Universities. The programme brings the most renowned education specialist together.

The courses structures can be had from the following table

Gent 1

The venues can be had from the table below

Gent 3

This is the list of the participating universities

Gent 4 AGent 4 B

The autumn semester at the University of Gent consists of the following topics:

Gent  5

The spring semester 2017 at the Technical University of Liberec is as follows

Gent 6

The autumn semester 2017 at University of Maribor consists of the following:

Gent 7

Exams and Research thesis can be had from the following table

Gent  8

The cross section of students can be had from the following table

Gent 9

Why to take part in the programme?

Gent 10


And another example: Citta’ Studie, Biella, Italy


Engineer Ermano Rondi presented the role of Citta’ Studie.

The following tables illustrate the actual and future needs in education and how these challenges are met at Citta’ Studie in Biella, Italy and some in cooperation with Politecnico di Torino. The tables are self explanatory.

Citta 1 Digital Revolution

Citta 2

Citta 3

Citta 4

Citta 5

Citta 6

Citta 7

Citta 8

Citta 9

Citta 10

Citta 11

Citta 12

Citta 13

Citta 14

Citta 15

Citte 16

Citta 16A

Citte 17

Citta 17 A

Citta 18

Citta 19

Citta 20





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