Natural Fur: global sustainability strategy launched in London
Feb 21 2020 - In the limelight of the many festivities taking place in and around London Fashion Week, the International Fur Federation (IFF) launched its sustainability strategy in London this week. The strategy consists of the three main pillars Good for Welfare, Good for People, and Good for the Environment, and eight major initiatives including the 2020 launch of FURMARK, a global welfare certification and traceability scheme. Read the detailed strategy here. "Fur is one of the most sustainable natural materials, the epitome of ‘slow fashion’, and is an industry worth an estimated 30 billion dollars per year that employs hundreds of thousands across the globe. All of those involved in the sector and wider supply chain have a role to play in helping to meet and deliver these ambitious goals and this strategy will help them to do that," Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF said. He was complemented by Mr. Ulrik Petersen, deputy at the Danish Embassy in London, where the event took place: "We recognise that fur and the concept of sustainable fashion complement one another. Fur is a natural, sustainable material that epitomises the concept of circular, ‘slow’ fashion. Representing quality, individuality, and accessibility, fur is and remains popular. Fur therefore has a role to play as part of the solution to the problems surrounding fast fashion, and this new sustainability strategy emphasises that with clarity," he said. In a panel debate Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue and Cabana, designer Ineta Joksaite and fur farmers John Papse and Ryan Holt, shared insight on the realities of using animal fur as fabric. Figures from the IFF show that around one third of fur garments are purchased second-hand, 16 percent of fur is restyled and only 12 percent thrown away. Such figures reflect the essence of circular economy, a concept for production and consumption seeking to design out waste. Circular economy is becoming increasingly popular in politics, not least in the European Union, where several upcoming legislative frameworks targets product longevity and waste reduction. The International Fur Federation is a sister organisation to Fur Europe, basically representing the global fur trade outside Europe. Fur Europe’s animal welfare assessment WelFur programme is a part of FURMARK.
Report against WelFur fails to compromise its scientific basis
Feb 13 2020 - The animal lobby coalition Fur Free Alliance fails to bring anything new to the table in a new report about WelFur. Named 'Why WelFur fails to stop the suffering of animals on fur farms’ the report seeks to discredit WelFur and tie the fur sector's housing system with inherently poor animal welfare. "It's old wine on new bottles. At the end of the day this dispute comes down to values and gut-feelings, but the scientific literature does not support the notion that animals generally don't thrive on fur farms. Actually Fur Free Alliance makes no real attempt to attack the scientific foundation of WelFur either. They know of course, WelFur is very solid science, independent, and bulletproof, so they stay on the well-known slogans," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. The report was presented in the European Parliament on 21 January, at the same time as Fur Europe's 'This is Fur' event. Yet, the organisers did not invite the fur sector to engage in an open debate, and this is not doing anything good for the democratic debate, according to Mette Lykke Nielsen. "A collective animal lobby has long ago announced they want a European-wide ban on fur farming, and at the same time they don't want to engage in debate with us. I'm a democrat by heart, so I don't have a whole lot of respect for this attitude, but I understand it's a strategy. It's a way to avoid being confronted with the scientific knowledge that threatens to disturb their ideas about animal welfare," she said. Does Fur Free Alliance's report have no merits at all? "Sure. It represents values that are legitimate in a free democracy, but its conclusions are speculative. The expert who draws the conclusions has never set foot on a fur farm. It's not really serious." Download Fur Europe's answer to the FFA report (pdf). WelFur is developed by independent scientists from European universities, and works on the same principles as the European Commission's Welfare Quality programme. Furthermore, WelFur is endorsed in the EU Database for Self-regulations.
The People Behind Fur – Meet Fur Farmers
Feb 12 2020 - The most important part of being a farmer is to love your animals because you depend on them for a living, says Rasa Salygienė. She and her husband moved back to their home country after working abroad as workers on farms. Their dream was to open a mink farm in Lithuania and live there with their children. Now Rasa talks about the challenges and whether she is happy with the choice she and her husband made in the video. Find out more stories like this in this section.
Sustainable Fur Forum
Successful kick-off for the Sustainable Fur Forum
Jan 23 2020 - Set up at the initiative of Fur Europe, the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF) is a new platform of discussion within the European Parliament about fur related topics. It is intended for all Members of the European Parliament who consider sustainability to be an essential component of today's production and consumption dynamics. On the side of the exhibition « This is Fur 2020 », which is displaying in the European Parliament from 21 to 23 of January the incomparable know-how and quality of fur production made in the EU, the actors of the European fur value chain have launched on Wednesday, 22nd of January, a cross-party and cross-committee Forum of discussion for all interested MEPs. The SFF will provide science-based and fact-based input on different topics of European interest which involve natural fur and highlight its potential for helping the EU to manage the different aspects of a sustainable transition: circular economy, environmental footprint, traceability, respect of the welfare of animals and protection of biodiversity. The SFF launch took place during a convivial reception hosted by MEP Juozas Olekas (S&D, Lithuania) in the European Parliament in the presence of the EU fur sector and many other prominent European policymakers. MEP Olekas, who kindly accepted to be the Chair of the SFF, declared: « In a time when the EU institutions announced ambitious plans to make the European economy more sustainable, circular and transparent, the Sustainable Fur Forum is a much needed initiative. The Forum will bridge the gap between policymakers, industry, academia and civil society to find solutions that protect both the environment and consumers and make the European fur sector more sustainable and competitive ». MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis (EPP, Greece), will be the SFF Vice-Chair. SFF events will bring together European policymakers and relevant stakeholders allowing to hold balanced and constructive debates. The first event will take place in April 2020 and will be focused on the upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan to be adopted by the European Commission.
‘This is Fur’ Exhibition Grows in Popularity in European Parliament
Jan 23 2020 - ‘This is Fur’ is an attraction in the European Parliament, where Fur Europe’s European lobby event takes place 21-23 January. More than 100 bilateral meetings had already taken place before the final day, Thursday, but it is the many spontaneous visits to the stand in the communication area of the Altiero Spinello building that surprises Fur Europe. “The stand is somehow visually attractive because we get lots of guests, who are just curious to see what’s going on. People are really sweet, and our messages are well received. Our members have been very busy this week, but we have a lot of fun with it,” said Fur Europe CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen. Spontaneous visits to the ‘This is Fur’ stand range from MEPs to other animal industries and –sectors, and once inside the attraction is the fur garment samples, all designed for longevity but with different strategies. “Fur samples were also popular on previous ‘This is Fur’ events. Natural fur does that to people. You just have to touch the material when you see it. This time we also brought a virtual reality experience from fur farms. This is popular too, especially the younger audience is keen to put on the virtual reality goggles.” The stand also offers two furriers working both on the remodelling of second-hand garments, and answering questions about the craft, material, repairment, personalisation and care. Fur Europe’s purpose with bringing its members to Brussels to meet their national MEPs and other stakeholders is to inform about the circular qualities of natural fur and promote the sustainability policies of the industry. According to Chairman of Fur Europe, John Papsø, this goal has already been achieved: “Our environmental attributes and advanced approach to animal welfare is an eye-opener to most people, so I think it is safe to say we will come back. Fur always comes back,” he says. The lobby event closes down Thursday 23 January at 4 p.m.
Open Position: WelFur Assistant
Jan 22 2020 - Fur Europe is currently hiring a full-time intern for a duration of either 6 or 12 months starting from 2nd March. The successful candidate will join an informal yet highly professional and collaborative working environment and a dedicated multi-national team and will assist the Head of WelFur and will work in the field of animal welfare. ABOUT THE POSITION Support in the implementation and management of the WelFur program on the European fox, mink and finnraccoon farms Report to: Head of WelFur Assisting on the day-to-day communication to fur farmers and other stakeholders about the WelFur program Collecting and updating data on the WelFur implementation Developing material for the internal and external website of Fur Europe Assisting the Fur Europe engagement in the IFASA congress and work around this network Managing and arranging WelFur advisor seminars and updates Attending relevant events or conferences and report to Fur Europe members ABOUT THE CANDIDATE Education and experience Bachelor or Master’s degree in agricultural science or similar; Proven knowledge about animal husbandry; Fluency in English is essential; fluency in other EU languages is welcome; Skills Quick learner, ability to grasp complex concepts rapidly; Strong research and analysis skills; Team-player, proactive and inquisitive mindset; Fully familiar with Microsoft software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint. ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS You can send your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org until Sunday, 9th February at midnight. Candidates will be informed by e-mail if they are accepted to the interview phase shortly after. Interviews are expected to take place in February 2020. Ideally, the contract will start on Monday, 2nd March, for the total duration of 6 or 12 months. The contract will be a convention d’immersion professionelle.
Sweden rejects ban on fur farming with reference to scientific facts
Jan 15 2020 - There is no scientific foundation for claiming poor animal welfare in the Swedish mink production, and Minister for Rural Affairs Jennie Nilsson has consequently rejected a ban on fur farming in Sweden. In a debate in the Swedish parliament today the Minister referred to the scientific recommendations of the Swedish Board of Agriculture, published in January 2018. This work was commissioned with the exact purpose of scrutinising the mink production for animal welfare issues and point to new legislation if needed. The Swedish Board of Agriculture did not find a reason to suggest new legislation on the basis of a scientific review of the current literature. Instead, the Board of Agriculture pointed out the improved animal welfare performance in the Swedish mink production since 2012, which has been fuelled by the Swedish fur farmers' own, voluntary health scheme. The industry initiative was also highlighted by the Minister, who stressed the scientific basis of the 2018 recommendations, as well as the importance of legislation based on scientific knowledge: "The Board of Agriculture relied on the Scientific Committee. As a responsible minister, this is an incredibly important tool in such [animal welfare] contexts. I think it is important to make decisions, that to the extent possible is based on scientific facts," she said. Other relevant welfare issues were likewise scrutinised by the Swedish experts. The 2018 study established that the farmed mink is domesticated and cannot be compared to its wild counterpart. Likewise, the study established that swimming water is not an essential need for farmed mink, and found the appearance of stereotypical behaviour is at a very low level, which furthermore cannot be associated with herds, but only individuals. It was further noted that more research is desirable, and the option to utilise the European-wide WelFur programme, that is based on the principles of the European Commission's Welfare Quality programme, for future welfare improvements in the Swedish fur production.
Sustainable Fashion Debate During ‘This is Fur’ Sold Out
Jan 10 2020 - The opening remarks will be delivered by Fur Europe's CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen, when Brussels media Politico hosts a panel debate on sustainability in the fashion industry during the 'This is Fur' event 22 January. Politico's Spotlight “Achieving Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: what’s the way forward?” will take place inside the European Parliament: "Clothes contribute more to climate change than international flights and shipping combined, and the problem is getting worse. Falling prices and the rise of fast fashion have led to growing demand and a tendency to see clothing as disposable. As Europeans’ wardrobes are getting bigger, so is the sector’s environmental footprint," the event description reads. Among the subjects of the panel, the debate will look at potential legislative plans to reduce the fashion industry's environmental impact, current linear business models, how to get consumers to buy less, but better clothing, longevity and so on. Fur Europe is a partner of the event because of the subject's alignment with both values and policies in the fur sector: "Well, natural fur is the very symbol of slow fashion, and today's clear-cut consensus is that longer active clothing life is the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion. No garment compares to natural fur when it comes to longevity, and it is a huge environmental advantage when you can distribute a product's footprint over a long time. So Politico's debate hits a tune with us in the fur community. We always involve ourselves in the societal debates we have stakes in," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. The interest for the fashion debate has been very big, and there are no more seats available.
The European Fashion Industry buys WelFur Certified pelts
Jan 08 2020 - As the first WelFur certified skins go on sale at international fur auction house Saga Furs in December 2019, brokers buying on behalf of European fashion brands are the most active buyers in the auction room. Blue Frost Fox pelts are effectively the first sourced from WelFur certified European fur farms. Fur broker Alex Tarantola was amongst the 200 international buyers in the audition room who arrived in Helsinki to buy skins. He is noticing a shift in the attitude of the fashion brands he works with when it comes to certified natural fur. "It’s not only increased interest in getting certified pelts. For brands now, certification is a must," says Alex while carefully observing the auctioneers at the podium. ''They need to be covered by a credible certification. And it’s not a matter whether it’s worth more or less. It is a matter of whether they are in or out." Tia Matthews, the Fashion Business Director at Saga Furs, says this is not a surprise. Regardless of whether it is fur or cotton, traceability is still one of the biggest challenges across the complex fashion supply chains. "That’s why brands want to use WelFur skins sourced from European certified farms. It allows them to show their commitment to sustainability and demonstrate that the materials they use could be traced back to sustainable productions." Also on the Asian market many see the WelFur certification as a means to enhance competitiveness and demonstrate quality, according to Samantha Vesala, Saga Furs’ Asia Business Director. "There is a noticeable difference in the quality of the material depending on where they originate from. Asian brands require certification proof because they want to be able to say that the lots come from Europe." As buyers and brokers follow the prices on the screen and check order papers, farmers sit at the back of the auction room observing. Jari Isosari is amongst them. A third-generation farmer living in Ostrobothnia, a region in Finland living mainly out of fur farming, he says that WelFur helps him to see how to improve his farming practices. "We can show to the people that we have a responsibility toward the animals, and we care about them in the same way as any farmer would."
World premiere of certified natural fur pelts
Dec 19 2019 - Fox pelts certified in accordance with the European WelFur standard will be on offer for the first time during the international fur auction at Saga Furs in Helsinki, Finland, 19-20 December 2019. WelFur is the biggest and most comprehensive animal welfare programme ever to be implemented across an entire continent, which count 2,918 European mink and fox farms currently housing 35 million animals. "Consumers today want to know how the products they buy have come about. Animal welfare is an important societal value, it means the world to a lot of people, and we are incredibly proud of European fur farmers setting a new standard for on-farm animal welfare assessment across an entire industry. This has not been done anywhere before. Still, product transparency is clearly the direction society moves towards, and we are proud to be livestock first movers," said Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, a Brussels-based umbrella organisation for the entire European fur industry. WelFur is developed by independent scientists from seven European universities and sets out to establish a reliable, fact-based picture of the level of animal welfare on each fur farm. The farm assessments, as well as the issuing of WelFur certificates, are carried out by independent third-party Baltic Control. The WelFur programme is based solely on the principles and methodology of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality project and has been endorsed in the European Commission’s database for self-regulations. It is the first and only animal welfare programme to be obtained in the database for self-regulations that requires testing against principles of openness, reliability, good faith, monitoring, continuous improvement and inclusiveness. "The independence of the programme has been critical to us from the beginning because as a producer, you cannot reliably assess yourself. I think independent assessments are particularly important when it concerns animals since all animal debates quickly become very heated and emotional," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. The auction sales of WelFur certified fur pelts kicks off in the morning of 19 December. Due to the lengthy manufacturing process of handmade fur products, natural fur products carrying the WelFur certification will only become widely available to consumers from September 2020 onwards. Facts about WelFur WelFur is based on the principles of the European Welfare Quality project and developed by independent scientists from seven European universities*. External reviewers have secured the conservation of the scientific quality and alignment with the original Welfare Quality project. All farm assessments are undertaken by independent third-party Baltic Control . Baltic Control is also the sole issuer of WelFur certificates. Animal-based measurements are central in WelFur. These measurements are an indirect way to ask the animals themselves about their well-being. They are widely endorsed by animal welfare experts, albeit they are not yet commonly used in animal welfare assessments. 2,918 fox and mink farms across 22 European countries have been assessed in the period 2017-2019, which concludes the implementation phase. Two percent of the fur farms did not achieve a WelFur certificate. There is an increasing interest of WelFur outside Europe, and the programme is being expanded to individual fur farms outside Europe as well. A WelFur protocol for finnraccoon has been developed following the protocols for mink and fox. The finnraccoon protocol is currently being tested. The first sales of WelFur certified mink will take place at Kopenhagen Fur, Denmark, in February 2020. * University of Eastern Finland, MTT Agrifood Research (Finland), Aarhus University (Denmark), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), French National Institute of Agronomic Research
European fur community is ready for Green Deal
Dec 18 2019 - The European Commission unveiled the European Green Deal on December 11, outlining the EU’s vision for a climate-neutral continent in 2050 and a roadmap of concrete actions to achieve such goal. Fur Europe welcomes this initiative and highlights several areas of interests where the European fur sector can provide a meaningful contribution. As part of the Green Deal, the EU will propose a new Circular Economy action plan addressing the textile sector. Fur Europe will share best practices of the fur sector and work with the EU institutions in order to push the European fashion industry and consumers towards sustainable production and consumption patterns based on natural materials, reuse and remanufacturing of products, and waste reduction. As part of this initiative, Fur Europe also hopes that the Product Environmental Footprint initiative of the European Commission will be fully embedded in the Green Deal in order to deliver a standard methodology to assess the sustainability of products. Secondly, the Green Deal envisages a new EU biodiversity strategy. Fur Europe has so far successfully worked with the EU institutions and member states to reconcile industry practices with the sector’s aim to protect the environment and biodiversity in Europe. Given the new strategy, Fur Europe will continue to contribute in particular to the pursuit of Target 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, addressing the control and eradication of invasive alien species. The third area of interest for the fur sector will be the so-called ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which aims to deliver sustainable food for all. The strategy will indirectly affect fur farming practices from animal welfare and environmental points of view. Therefore Fur Europe will act in concert with other livestock producers to ensure that any measures affecting farming are based on a rigorous scientific basis. Fur Europe will also ensure the protection and promotion of the work so far done on animal welfare by the European fur industry. In this view, Fur Europe looks forward to co-operating with the newly established EU Reference Centre on the welfare of poultry, rabbits and fur animals. Finally, the Green Deal includes a ‘Chemical Strategy for Sustainability’ to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and their spread in the environment. Also, in this case, Fur Europe will work to achieve the highest level of consumer protection and product safety while maintaining a high level of competitiveness in the European fur industry, in particular concerning the restriction of certain chemical substances, the use of safe alternatives and the market surveillance.
Take a 360° VR Tour Around a Fox Farm
Dec 17 2019 - Immerse yourself in an experience like never before. This 360° VR video takes you at the heart of a European fox farm. This allows you to witness how foxes are raised and how farmers take care of their animals. Enjoy the 360° VR Tour of fox farm!
‘This is Fur’ kicks off 21-23 January
Dec 15 2019 - 21-23 January 2020, leaders from the European fur community are gathered in Brussels to meet their MEPs and other political stakeholders in the Brussels bubble. It is the third time the European fur sector promotes itself in the capital of Europe, following events in both 2014 and 2015. This event aimed at providing ‘first hand’ factual and reliable information about the fur industry to the EU institution representatives and an engagement and open dialogue platform for all relevant stakeholders. "There are many myths and prejudices about fur, and it is important for us to tell lawmakers about natural fur's circular qualities, and demonstrate how the European fur sector can help EU to reach its goals of climate neutrality. We have very strong policies to present including Europe's most comprehensive, science-based animal welfare programme. We are quite excited," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. Besides more than 100 bilateral meetings the event in January also offers debates and presentations on animal welfare, environment and fashion. The latter with the sustainability angle, which has defined the public debate over fashion in 2019. As the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion is longer active life for clothing, natural fur has role model qualities and this will be demonstrated live at the stand in the communications area on the third floor of the European Parliament. During the event, Fur Europe is also partner on a Politico Event titled "Achieving sustainability in the fashion industry: what's the way forward?" DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAMME (PDF)
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 the leather and wool sectors, 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 which are confusing for the consumers. 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 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."
Video: How We Ensure Good Animal Welfare with WelFur
Sep 09 2019 - Responding to consumer's demand for more traceability, the European fur sector pioneered a new, modern standard for animal welfare in fur farmed species. WelFur is developed by independent scientists from seven European universities. The animal welfare assessment system works on the principles of the European Commission's Welfare Quality programme. Earlier this year, the European Commission endorsed WelFur as a Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative, making it the first animal welfare programme in history to be promoted in the Commission’s database of so-called ‘soft law’ initiatives. Recently the international luxury group Kering included WelFur in ‘Kering Animal Welfare Standard’ report describing it as a credible animal welfare programme and certification. Find out how WelFur ensures better welfare for the animals and provides transparency for the consumers by watching the video below: Read more about the fur sector's focus on animal welfare here.
WelFur meets animal welfare standards of Kering Group
Sep 07 2019 - International luxury group Kering, who amongst its brands counts Gucci, Yves Saint Lauren and Alexander McQueen have published their animal welfare standards earlier this year. The European fur sector’s science-based animal welfare programme WelFur is highlighted in the report as it meets the ‘Kering Animal Welfare Standard’ for farmed fur. In addition to farmed fur, the Kering animal welfare standards apply to raw materials sourced from cattle, calves, goats, sheep, ostrich, crocodiles, alligators and python. "Improving the welfare of animals must be an imperative for our industry and Kering wants to amplify the focus of attention from a few species to all of the animals, including livestock, within fashion’s global supply chains. We hope for widespread adoption of the standards through collaborating with our suppliers, our peers in luxury, the fashion industry at large, and with the food sector, in these shared supply chains to ultimately shift how we, as a society, treat animals and nature," said Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International institutional affairs, Kering. CEO of Fur Europe Mette Lykke Nielsen thinks the development within Kering is positive. "I can only applaud Kering for putting forward strict animal welfare demands to suppliers of natural fibres from animals. When WelFur was initiated it was exactly with the purpose to document the good animal welfare on European fur farms. Because of Kering's animal welfare initiative, we have worked with them professionally for a while, so I know from experience they do not take these things lightly," she said.
Eco-conscious London designer takes on fur
Sep 05 2019 - "I have always been sceptical about working with fur, especially since I am from Great Britain, and there have been many scare campaigns growing up in the past." The words of the young London-based designer Tesfa Joseph sum up a quite common perception about fur in the UK. Then he came across something unexpected which changed his mind: Eco-conscious Tesfa was introduced to a 100-years old fur coat in a vintage store in Denmark by his partner Tommy-Louis Julius Funch Kraglund. "It came as a huge surprise to me because the fur coat looked as good as new, and only the design was telling the real age of the coat. I was astonished by what fur can do and how long it can last being passed from generation to generation." An ambassador of sustainability, Tommy-Louis Julius Funch Kraglund is no stranger to the damaging impact the fashion industry causes to the environment. A knowledge he thinks it is worth sharing, especially with those working in fashion. "If we want to pass on the world to our children in a better condition than we got it, we need to take action. To treat nature, the animals and the workers around the globe with respect." Impressed by what he saw in the vintage shop and with many questions, Tesfa wanted answers – where does fur comes from; how does the supply chain work? "I decided to see if it was true if the animals got treated nicely and how the production works. When the collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur started, I got more than a positive surprise from the industry. I began to feel it makes more sense to wear something from nature rather than something made of plastic by workers who are not treated well." Keen to tell what he had seen, Tesfa made a bold move. As one of the 14 graduates selected to show their designs at Central Saint Martins’ press show for BA Womenswear, he wanted to present a fur collection. "A few people were sceptical about me wanting to use fur at the beginning. They said it might affect my chances of getting into the press show if I decided to go that route." He adds: "It was a euphoric moment seeing almost a years’ worth of hard work come to a climax on the runway. For both of us, we didn't expect the collection to be received so well; it was indeed a humbling experience. Now teamed up, Tesfa and Tommy are launching their own fashion brand Burchi hoping they could help to bring about change in fashion production. "Many other designers have great ideas, which is an important part of the design, but design and creation is not everything. The fashion we see today needs to reflect the tendencies of the times we live in, which is why our focus on transparency as a brand will make us stand out."
Climate change a top priority for new European Commission
Aug 23 2019 - "The message from Europe’s voters – and those too young to vote – is loud and clear: they want real action on climate change and they want Europe to lead the way." On this note new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went on to promise the proposal of a European Green Deal, the ambition to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This happened in the German politician’s guideline for the next European Commission – a Commission that will have ‘environment’ written all over it, although the final working programme for the new commission has yet to be published. The new Commission’s work on climate change is primarily comprehended in two policies: a new strategy for on biodiversity for 2030, and a new circular economy action plan building on work already laid out by the previous Commission. While it is already clear that this work will focus on the promotion of reuse, repair and remanufacturing of materials, Ursula von der Leyen renewed the focus on polluting fashion textiles in her guidelines for the new European Commission: "I will propose a new Circular Economy Action Plan focusing on sustainable resource use, especially resource-intensive and high-impact sectors such as textiles and construction." It is within Ursula von der Leyen’s vision that a European Green Deal will open up opportunities, and create a competitive edge to Europe’s industries, a view backed by Fur Europe’s CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen. "There is no doubt the climate change debate is an opportunity for the fur industry. A few years ago climate change was a fringe issue at best. Today, both public and political attention has snowballed climate change into being the number one issue on the global agenda. All of a sudden it becomes common knowledge that fake fur coats, which releases microplastics into our oceans and waterways, is not the ethical alternative it was once promoted as, while natural, biodegradable textiles like fur become prototypes for the new, circular economy. The number of eco-conscious consumers is on the rise, and they represent an opportunity for the fur sector," she says. However, the new winds flying over Europe are not without challenges to the fur sector either. Fur Europe has mapped the sector’s environmental footprint for the past 18 months, and the coming years will be used to find out how the sector can improve its environmental impact in every part of the value chain.
Open Position: EU Policy and Environment Intern
Jul 18 2019 - Fur Europe is currently hiring a full-time intern for the duration of 6 months to start on 16 September 2019. The successful candidate will join an informal, yet highly professional and collaborative working environment and a dedicated multi-national team and will assist Head of Policy and Head of Sustainability Standards efforts on sustainability, environment and EU policy. ABOUT THE POSITION Support in mapping the new EU institutional architecture (European Commission in particular); Report to Head of Policy, Head of Sustainability Standards; Monitor institutional activities (mainly European Parliament and Commission) and regulatory developments in circular economy and sustainability; animal health and welfare, biodiversity; trade policy and internal market; Support the Head of Sustainability Standards in delivering rules and studies on the sector’s environmental performance within the framework of EC’s Product Environmental Footprint method; Assist the Head of Sustainability Standards in the collection and processing of data from the supply chain; Monitor and analyse sustainability programmes in Europe and globally, particularly focusing on fashion, livestock and waste management; Assist the Head of Policy and the Head of Sustainability Standards in the development of briefings, factsheets, position papers, internal surveys, and answers to public consultations; Attend meetings and working groups with public and private stakeholders, conferences alone and/or with the Head of Policy and the Head of Sustainability Standards; Support the Head of Policy in the development of EU-related events; Weekly monitoring of the main EU portals; Ad hoc support in dealing with membership engagement/queries. ABOUT THE CANDIDATE Education and experience Bachelor or Master’s degree in EU Affairs or similar; Proven knowledge of the EU decision-making process; Familiarity with LCA is an asset; Fluency in English is essential; fluency in other EU languages is welcome; Experience in dealing with EU comitology procedures and EU agencies is an asset. Skills Quick learner, ability to grasp complex concepts rapidly; Strong research and analysis skills; Team-player, proactive and inquisitive mindset; Fully familiar with Microsoft software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint. ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS You can send your CV and cover letter to email@example.com until Sunday, August 25 at midnight. Candidates will be informed by e-mail if they are accepted to the interview phase by Friday, August 30. Interviews are expected to take place in the first week of September 2019. Ideally, the contract will start on Monday, 16 September 2019, for the total duration of 6 months. The contract will be a convention d’immersion professionelle.
Fur animal welfare: New WelFur protocol is underway
May 23 2019 - While the science-based animal welfare programme WelFur currently is being implemented on 3.200 mink and fox farms across Europe, the development of science-based measurements for a much less known fur animal are quietly underway. Finnraccoon, also known as a raccoon dog, is farmed commercially in Finland, and the production counted 160.000 pelts in 2018. Right now a pilot phase is taking place in which animal welfare researchers are testing the validity of measurements, while at the same time the calculation model is being developed. The new protocol - that effectively work as a manual for the independent third-party assessors - will be handed over to an external review committee by the end of the year. The committee will review the protocol for its scientific validity and alignment with the methodology and principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality protocols. “All animals matter, also when the production is quite small. The WelFur protocols developed for mink and fox are already a success before consumers can buy products from certified farms. As the only animal welfare programme in the world, WelFur has been obtained in the European Commission’s self-regulation database, and Fur Europe’s board did not hesitate in deciding to move on with a finnraccoon protocol,” CEO of Fur Europe, Mette Lykke Nielsen, says. Recently, it was also revealed that fur farmed species will be a part of the European Commission’s next reference centre for animal welfare together with poultry and rabbits. The reference centres gather species-specific animal welfare expertise across Europe, and Mette Lykke Nielsen is pleased with the focus on scientific knowledge: “We think independent, scientific knowledge should underpin decisions on animal welfare. The WelFur protocols are dynamic, scientific tools, and the protocols and score system will change as new research and better welfare measurements emerge. WelFur is based on animal indicators, and while everybody knows animal indicators are ‘state of the art’ in animal welfare assessment, the fur sector is the first industry to implement animal indicators across an entire continent,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says.
Experts: ‘Green’ solution from the fashion industry is a marketing trick
May 20 2019 - The recent Copenhagen Fashion Summit has triggered a sharp response from a number of fashion researchers, who say the fashion industry is more concerned with the survival of the industry than the survival of the planet. It is problematic, the researchers say, that the fashion industry keeps promoting the idea of recirculation of textiles as the sustainable solution to the climate change problem. It is not a solution that accords with the findings of fashion researchers from across the globe. Rather, it is a marketing trick designed to legitimate today’s overproduction of cheap fashion garments, which itself is the real sustainability problem of the fashion industry. “The more the attention is directed to recycling, the longer [the fashion industry] can continue with what they make the most profit from, namely selling a lot of bad clothes," says Ingun Klepp, fashion researcher at Oslo Metropolitan University, to Danish think tank Monday Morning. The critical researchers have organised themselves in Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion with the purpose to create a paradigm change in fashion consumption where the focus is on fewer fashion items with better design and higher quality because such features will make consumers wear the garments for longer. Or in other words: a shift from fast fashion to slow fashion. This idea, however, contradicts almost all contemporary business models in a fashion industry that keeps increasing the number of annual fashion collections and pump out more and more products. Morten Lehman is Chief Sustainability Officer at Global Fashion Agenda, the organisation behind the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and he does not understand the criticism. He says to Monday Morning that while he shares the researchers’ concern over the speed with which recirculation of textiles is being introduced, there is massive sustainability progress in the industry. “Some years ago we made a commitment to the circular economy. Today, 12,5 per cent of the global market has signed off on having goals in this are area,” he says. According the fashion industry’s own report ‘Pulse of the fashion industry,’ the production growth is an expected to have increased by 80 per cent in 2030, and the report recognises the sustainability problem in fashion: “The fashion companies are not introducing sustainable solutions at a sufficient pace for them to make up for the negative environmental and social consequences of the rapid growth of the fashion industry,” the report reads. However, it is exactly the definition of “sustainable solutions” suggested by the industry in the ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports the researchers to dispute. "How can consumers buy in an environmentally friendly way? The ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports the answer to this is recirculated materials, but it is not true. The largest impact on environment and climate is decided by the longevity of products, and consequently how often they must be replaced. There is no such thing as green garments. I think it is bad advice to move to more plastic in a world that’s starting to understand that we have to do something about the plastic problem. It is easy to suspect this is because it is easy to make money on synthetic clothing,” Ingun Klepp says.