This is Fur 21-23 January 2020
The European fur community is coming to EU capital Brussels to meet EU politicians and other stakeholders. We are in Brussels to talk about all aspects of sustainability and to demonstrate the circular qualities of natural fur.
Animal Welfare based on science
WelFur is a state of the art animal welfare assessment programme developed by independent scientists from seven universities in Europe. By 2020, more than 3.400 European mink and fox farms will be professionally certified by independent third party assessors. An associated labelling scheme will provide transparency and help consumers to buy WelFur certified fur products.Learn more
European livestock sector unites to ‘burst’ the myths
Dec 10 2019 - Representatives from the European livestock sector gathered today in front of the European Commission buildings in Brussels to address the danger of oversimplifying the debate around livestock and its role in European society. This flash action echoes a number of concerns highlighted by the numerous protests that have taken place in different European countries in recent weeks. Aiming to tackle the myths that prevail online today and the agri-bashing related to livestock production, the European Livestock Voice, a group of EU-based organisations that are active on livestock issues, decided to raise their voices at EU-level by bringing together farmers, MEPs and other actors from the sector to 'burst' a series of balloons carrying common myths or misinformation in front of the European Commission building. This action took place on the first day of the European Commission’s Agricultural Outlook conference and a few days after the new European Commission was appointed in order to try to rebalance the debate around livestock production. Marianne Streel, President of the Wallonian Farmers Organisation, who was present during the flash action, said "We want to urge people and policy-makers to pay attention to the European livestock sector and to the misleading information that is damaging its reputation and endangering farmers’ livelihoods and even their lives in some cases. In Wallonia, farms shut up shop every day. In the last 10 years, 31% of our farms have disappeared. These are clear and frightening figures that can also be found in other Member States. If we lose our livestock farms, the repercussions will be significant in many areas, both in our countryside and on our plates. These consequences are currently overlooked in the debates because we tend to forget the positive aspects of livestock in Europe." In this regard, professionals from the sector are starting to mobilise to raise awareness throughout Europe, from Ireland to Italy, with initiatives that aim to make their point of view heard and remind decision-makers that the debate on these issues is also constantly evolving at academic level. The European Livestock Voice launched an initial campaign at EU level supported by a website with the aim to engage in the debate, focusing on facts and feedback from professionals in the sector. During the flash action, the organisers announced that the group will continue and expand these actions in the coming months. “We need to stand up with facts and figures. I am a strong supporter of the European Campaign #MeattheFacts, because it shows the livestock contribution to soil fertility, carbon sequestration, organic fertilizers, bioeconomy etc. There is no healthy environment or balanced healthy diet without livestock production! In addition, it is important to have in mind that around 30 million jobs are linked to the livestock sector, many of them in areas with risk of abandonment or desertification. This sector is crucial for keeping our rural areas alive,” said Mazaly Aguilar (ECR).
Furriers Launch Online Platform to Quench Desire for Recycling
Nov 13 2019 - A new online platform in Spain helps consumers eager to recycle fur to find fur workshop easier and faster. Plataforma Ipeleteros has an integrated search engine, which allows identifying a fur workshop based on location and individual needs of the customer. After filling in a short questionnaire, the platform pinpoints the most suitable furrier to do the remodelling and puts the customer in touch. Javier Hernandez, a furrier and the founder of the platform, came up with the idea after realising that people often struggle to find the right kind of service. After the main workshop in Barcelona, furriers from Madrid, Barcelona, León and Valencia also joined the network, which so far attracted 500 new customers. Its popularity grew significantly recently, which Javier attributes to increased concerns about the environment. "It is impossible to open a newspaper or to listen to the news without hearing about climate change. Experts recommend recycling to avoid CO2 emissions and to give materials a second life. It is very important to encourage customers to reuse their clothes," Javier said. "This is exactly what we are doing - contributing to a circular economy by using the fur skins for longer." According to Javier, the slow fashion movement has prompted people to shift to more conscious consumerism by buying less and using for longer. "Clients don’t think about buying something new all the time; they much more prefer to take advantage of what they already have because it either has some sentimental value or because they invested money in it." Throughout his career, Javier has come across fur coats as old as 70 years. He says that even with a minimum lifespan of 30 years, fur clothes could easily be upcycled into contemporary models. Beyond the environmental aspect, the online platform also has another advantage. As it became more popular, it boosted employment for many small to medium-sized fur businesses across Spain. "Over the years, this little experiment has become a platform that generates work for many workshops," Javier said. He hopes that in future, the platform could expand further in Spain, but also in other European countries where consumers are interested in upcycling.
VIDEO: Inside a Mink Farm in 360°
Nov 13 2019 - Welcome to a mink farm! This new immersive 360-degrees experience takes you straight to a fur farm, and provides a different viewpoint on mink farming. See how the animals live, what they eat and find out how the wellbeing of the mink is ensured. Enjoy the visit.
Long active product life is an emerging trend in fashion
Nov 05 2019 - The debate over sustainability in fashion continues to snowball, and a new report issued by the European Commission provides a forward-looking business angle to the debate. The report offers a mapping of future business opportunities for SMEs within sustainable fashion. The authors recognise long product life as an “emerging trend”, and this idea – keeping clothes in use for as long as possible – also makes up the foundation of many of the report’s case studies, trends and business opportunities. “Longer active life is now considered the most effective way of improving sustainability“, the report concludes, echoing NGOs like Fashion Revolution, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Greenpeace, all stakeholders who for environmental reasons promote product longevity and a move away from today’s massive consumption of disposable fast fashion. At present longevity is the single largest opportunity to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing. Quite simply, if clothes have a longer active life, they can be replaced less frequently - reducing the volume discarded to landfills and meaning fewer resources are consumed in manufacturing. Until a few years ago it was generally unknown to the broader public that washing of textiles like nylon and polyester causes microplastic pollution. In the same way, the idea of extending the lifetime of clothing for sustainability reasons has grown with consumers in the past few years, much fuelled of course, by the increased societal focus on climate change in general, and the massive pollution of the fashion industry in particular. Today, 39% of consumers in the UK say the fashion industry should prioritise design for long active clothing life in order for fashion to become more sustainable, according to a new survey commissioned by the International Fur Federation. The long active life of fashion garments can be supported in different ways but is often most associated with price, quality, fit, emotional attachment, product warranties, remodelling, reuse and the availability of workshops where clothing can be repaired. When the EU points to emerging trends within sustainable fashion, which provides potential business opportunities for SMEs in Europe, the general focal point is also extended product use. Increased customisation, ‘fashion on-demand’ (as opposed to bulk manufacturing) and business models based on clothes sharing are the key trends identified by the EU Commission, while consumer-wise the report says there is a shift towards new value-led consumerism taking place, which is particularly evident in the younger generations. According to fashion researcher Else Skjold, Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, the shift in consumer attitudes is however, not reserved the young but represent a wider societal idea that first and foremost manifests itself in a showdown with fashion’s inherent narrative about the fashionable as something new. "At present, we are experiencing what I consider a weariness amongst consumers over a system that increasingly has flooded the market with poorly manufactured clothes. It’s apparent in dropping sales of high street fashion. It’s apparent from a decreasing number of exhibitors at fashion fairs because manufacturers are moving away from large collections to small ‘drops’ in order to avoid dead stocks. It also shows at fashion weeks as more and more designers let go of the traditional runway formats. Even within the established fashion press, we begin to see alternatives to the storytelling about ‘new’. This movement reflects the beginning of the end of the production system we know today," Else Skjold said. Regardless of emerging trends, however, there is still a long way to go for a fashion industry more or less caught up in traditional linear business models designed produce cheap, fast fashion - and lots of it. In spite of many sustainability initiatives within the fashion industry, any progress is suppressed by the ever-growing consumption. According to the industry’s own report ‘The Pulse of the Fashion Industry,’ the amount of clothing being purchased is expected to rise from 62 million today to 102 million tons in 2030. If fashion indeed faces the paradigm shift towards circular business models and value-led consumption suggested by NGOs and experts alike, the established fashion industry could benefit from looking at the way the natural fur is designed, consumed and handled, Else Skjold says. She points to the way natural fur throughout a time otherwise characterised by disposable fashion, have continued to be a product consumers took to furrier workshops for repairment and remodelling. In turn, the active life of natural fur garments is counted in decades rather than years, often with more than one user. "Natural fur is an example of both a circular economy and durable design. In the end, it is these things that matter in sustainability," she said.
Fur Sector Enters Product Environmental Footprint Initiative
Oct 15 2019 - The European fur sector has entered the European Product Environmental Footprint initiative as part of the technical secretariat on apparel and footwear products. The technical secretariat is coordinated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and includes fashion brands and other textile sectors such as the leather and wool sector, which work together to develop PEFCRs. The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) are guidelines which clarify how to apply the Product Environmental Footprint method to measure the environmental footprint of products. The European Commission has developed the initiative amid pressure for a harmonised method assessing the environmental impact of products. At the moment, there are different ways to do that and numerous labels around, all the while European consumers are asking for more transparency. Currently, PEF is a non-legally binding recommendation. The Commission hopes that after testing the criteria with more products, it will become the basis for EU-wide legislation benchmarking goods from batteries to pasta and clothing materials. The pilot phase proved it possible to track environmental performance across large-scale supply chains. The uplifting results mean the European Commission has given the green light to the next stage, the so-called transition phase, in which existing PEFCRs can be implemented and new ones - like the one covering natural fur - can be developed. In three years, when the transition phase of research and consultations is over, the apparel and footwear sector hopes to have the tools to measure precisely the environmental impact of their products. These rules will also apply to fur, and this will enable the fur sector to calculate the environmental footprint and label fur products accordingly.
EU Animal Welfare Centre designated to Fur Animals
Oct 14 2019 - The European Commission has designated the second EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare to the welfare of poultry and other "small farmed animals", effectively covering species farmed for their fur in Europe. The centre is constituted of a consortium formed by the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation (France), and also composed of the Institut de Recerca I Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (Spain), Aarhus Universitet – Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna (Italy). Paradoxically, animal lobby groups earlier this year protested against an Animal Welfare Reference Centre designated farmed fur animals, and vegan lobby group Four Paws raised this objection again at a meeting at the EU Platform on Animal Welfare on 7 October. However, now former Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied that if fur farming is based on science and animal welfare standards "it is not his business to ban the activity." He referred to his own upbringing in Siberia where fur clothes were necessary to keep warm. A new institution in the EU, the Reference Centres represent an important part of European animal welfare policy. The Reference Centres aim to improve the enforcement of the legislation on animal welfare, which is one of the Commission's priorities. They also contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. In particular, by providing scientific and technical expertise, carrying out studies and developing methods for improving and assessing the welfare level of animals. The second EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare will start operating in 2020.
Video: Young People Discover the Fur Supply Chain
Oct 13 2019 - A group of young people go on a journey across the fur supply chain and experience natural fur from farm to fashion during the Fur Summer School 2019. Twenty-six students, aged 19-34, gathered at the end of the summer in the most prominent fur hub Kastoria and Siatista in Greece to learn about fur. For ten days they were getting behind-the-scenes access to farms, dressing and dyeing plants and manufacturing companies to discover how natural fur fits with sustainability. Find out how do these young people feel about fur in the video. Read more about the people behind the fur sector here.
LVMH Relies On WelFur for Sourcing Fur
Oct 10 2019 - The Luxury giant LVMH describes fur as a "key resource" and commits to sourcing the natural material only from certified farms. In a new annual Environmental report, the luxury group provides WelFur as an example of a recognised European quality standard on fur that is being produced responsibly and sustainably. Sustainable sourcing of raw materials of animal origin is a big part of the sustainability efforts of the luxury giant, which encompass under its umbrella fashion brands such as FENDI, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. This is not the first time when the science-based animal welfare programme WelFur is positively highlighted. Earlier this year, the report on Kering Animal Welfare Standards report mentioned WelFur as a reliable tool to measure animal welfare on fur farms. Besides fur, LVMH wants to work with certified supplies of cotton, exotic skins, leather and wool. Due to environmental concerns, the brands under LVMH are replacing conventional cotton with organic cotton or more sustainable cotton sources through the Better Cotton Initiative. The luxury group is encouraging its wool supplies to adopt the Responsible Wool Standards to ensure the well-being of animals farmed for wool.
It is time for a new European animal welfare law
Oct 08 2019 - EU’s animal welfare legislation is not comprehensive enough. This is the clear-cut conclusion of a survey undertaken amongst EU’s 28 chief veterinary officers on commission of the Finnish Presidency. No less than 88 percent of the 24 vets who responded to the questionnaire are in favour of stricter animal welfare legislation, Politico reports. "This is a very clear message from the state vets, and it matches the expectations of the European people, who repeatedly ask for more animal welfare according to the annual Eurobarometer surveys. I think it’s time to seriously consider a European animal welfare framework Law," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, said. The idea of having a single EU animal welfare framework law enjoyed support from 63 percent of the countries in the survey, while 87 percent said there is a need for additional legislation on areas where no detailed laws are in place at the moment. A whopping 91 percent answered that animal welfare should have a more central role in EU trade agreements with third-countries. EU has not adopted any animal welfare legislation since the killing method regulation from 2009. It is widely recognised in Brussels circles that this is due to animal welfare simply not being high on the political agenda. The Finnish Presidency however, seems determined to change that with the likely outcome being a European Council conclusion by the end of Finland’s term. Conclusions are adopted by the by consensus between all EU Member States and used to identify specific issues of concern, and influence EU’s policy agenda. "Animal welfare is clearly a common European matter, and all parts of our society is pointing in the same direction. We believe EU should take the cue and lead the way on animal welfare. When EU is passive on animal welfare they leave a room for all kinds of radical animal initiatives, and to be honest I think both people and animals are best off if we approach animal welfare with a base in scientific knowledge rather than emotional hysteria," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. She points out that EU already has the tools to efficiently improve animal welfare standards in Europe from the Welfare Quality project, the largest animal welfare project in the world to date, which set out to develop principles for animal welfare assessment from a multidisciplinary perspective. The European fur sector’s WelFur programme is based on and peer-reviewed against these principles. "WelFur has already been validated and adopted in the European Commission’s database for self-regulations. Soon we will have the assessment data ready and thus a clear picture of our welfare standards. The extensive data set is also the starting point for future welfare improvements as well as new research, for example under the umbrella of the new animal welfare reference centre for fur animals. This is the real quality of WelFur and Welfare Quality," Mette Lykke Nielsen said.
European Livestock Unites for a Better Public Debate
Oct 04 2019 - European livestock organisations have banded together under the European Livestock Voice in a bid to "restore balance and factual information" about livestock’s impact on health, environment and economy. The coalition of animal producers and associated sectors have produced the information hub www.meatthefacts.eu, an online portal launched to do away with the many myths and prejudices about livestock production flourishing in the public debate. "This initiative is a first of its kind at EU level for the livestock sector. We want to focus on common myths spreading on social media around livestock. We started work several months ago, and we collectively developed this platform, including our national member organisations and their specialists. Information presented on our platform is mostly coming from academic sources and peer-reviewed scientific papers. We also asked some specialists to fact check them," says Jean-Baptiste-Boucher, Communications Director of European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives (COPA COGECA), one of the initiative’s stakeholders. At a time when alternative proteins are enjoying buoyancy on the market, farm-raised meat this year has come under scrutiny from proponents of emergent plant-based and lab-grown agritech. During the launch of the event in the European Parliament on 25 September Fur Europe spokesperson Mick Madsen said: "Today, the market is being overrun with plant-based meat. That’s the food equivalent to fake fur which was introduced 25 years ago as the so-called ethical alternative to natural fur. Today, of course, we know that this alternative pollutes oceans and waterways with microplastics. Still, the story underlines that these big ethical discussions are never as simple as they are often presented." The initiative has already achieved broad political support, amongst others from Jérémy Decerle (Renew Europe, FR), MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García (S & D), and MEP Alexander Bernhuber (EPP) to whom the situation is clear: “Today’s debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative."