Low-Quality Fibres Undermine Textile Recycling
Sep 15 2020 - Experts fear that low-quality textiles – not designed for circularity - will downgrade the efforts to boost textile recycling as the separate collection becomes mandatory under the updated EU Waste Directive. ‘’The obligation to separately collect textiles by 2025 will mechanically increase the supply of used textiles, shoes and accessories without addressing current issues linked to poor circular textiles’ design and low-quality materials which directly impact preparing for re-use and recycling of used textiles,’’ said from EuRic, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. A recently published report by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency comparing textile collection and treatment in 6 European counties estimates that over the next 5 years an additional 1.4 million tonnes non-reusable textiles will be collected annually in Europe. Once no longer in use, unwanted clothes are usually brought to at a collection point – bring banks and curbside collector, from where they are transported for industrial sorting. The best-quality garments that could be worn again are skimmed off and sent to second-hand markets for re-use. However, the global market for re-used clothing is also crumbling under the pressure of growth-obsessed fast fashion retail offering low-quality clothing. The remaining clothes, the non-wearables, are considered waste that needs to be handled. But experts suggest the technologies and systems are not advanced enough to handle such a huge amount of collected waste mainly due to the composition of our clothes. ‘’Multi-layer garments and garments with fibre blends containing three or more different fibre types are not suited for fibre-to-fibre recycling,’’ clarified from EuRic adding: ‘’The only technique for fibre-to-fibre recycling currently existing and operational on a semi-industrial level is for the cotton. For this technique, the garments have to consist currently out of 90% cotton.[..] Recycling techniques for polyester and viscose are being developed but are not on an industrial level at the moment.’’ Globally 60 % of all textiles on the market are of synthetic origin compared to only 37 % for cotton. Using raw materials deriving from fossil fuels downgrades the quality of the produced fibres, even before it reaches the end of life. Once discarded, these textiles become very difficult to recycle. ‘’In line with the waste hierarchy textiles should be re-used as much as possible before being recycled. Low-quality textiles are less suitable for re-use and therefore, less sustainable’’, explained from EuRic. For waste collectors, the textiles classified as unwearable are a burden because they can’t be sold for second-hand use and don’t bring any profit. But making recycling economically viable could be done by introducing ‘’Extended Producers Responsibility’’ – a move that the EU Commissions is set to make with the upcoming Textile Strategy. Under this scheme, the producers will be financially responsible when their products are thrown away. Currently, France is the only country with legislation that makes extended producers responsibility mandatory, which put the county at the top of the chart for hitting recycling targets. Experts argue that understanding better the lifecycle of products rather than making products recyclable might be the key to reduce textile waste. Keeping products you already have in use for longer through care, remodelling or repair could help the fashion industry to cut approx. 143 million GHG emissions by 2030, cites the latest GFA and McKinsey’s “Fashion on Climate” report. This circular model is a trademark for fur garments where 76 % of fur owners say that intend to extend the life of garments through remodelling, donation or re-sale when the garment is no longer in use. According to McKinsey’s reports, repair and refurbishments alone could potentially double the lifetime of a product. Different experts see different ways to cut waste and tackle its environmental cost. However, they agree that all roads go through cutting overconsumption of low-quality textile and making sure that the ones which ultimately become waste are recyclable.
Here is what You Should Know About COVID-19 Disease and Mink Farms
Sep 15 2020 - Humans, not mink farms, spread coronavirus in society. This is one of the conclusions of a new study from experts in the Dutch Outbreak Management Team Zoonosis (OMT-Z), who have conducted research on Covid-19 infected mink farms in The Netherlands. Genetic comparison documented that DNA sequences in people living in the local communities around mink farms reflected the general diversity in The Netherlands, and were not related to DNA sequences found in mink farms in the area. Yet, caution is needed with regards to Covid-19 and mink farms. The study also confirms that mink-to-human transmission of coronavirus is possible, and strict biosecurity measures are essential to keep the virus in check on mink farms. People spread coronavirus between mink farms. In The Netherlands 52 farms have been infected with coronavirus since April. The infected Dutch farms have not contributed to spreading the virus in human society, but mink farms have spread coronavirus to other mink farms. The OMT-Z research was able to link DNA sequences from most farms in the research with each other. Humans turned out to be the most common epidemiological link, for example between farms with the same owner, exchange of farm workers or common feed supply. In some cases, there was no obvious link between farms with shared DNA sequences. Therefore, farm cats or other animals are mentioned in the OMZ-T research as potential transmitters between mink farms. Mink farms as Covid-19 reservoirs is a theory, not a fact As a consequence of the increased number of Covid-19 infected mink farms in The Netherlands, the Dutch state decided to compensate mink farmers, and accelerate the ban on mink farming from original 31 December 2024 to March 2021 (effectively the end of the ongoing production season). As healthy mink farms pose no risk to public health, the Dutch decision is also tied to mink farms’ assumed potential as so-called reservoirs for coronavirus. While OMT-Z considers this potential “likely”, they also conclude that more research is needed to demonstrate if mink can be an actual reservoir of SARS-CoV-2. In all likelihood, we will get more knowledge about this soon. Currently, research is taking place on Covid-19 infected mink farms in Denmark. As a starting point, Denmark chose a different strategy from The Netherlands. Instead of culling infected mink farms, the Danish authorities decided to isolate such farms under strict biosecurity rules, coupled with a nationwide monitoring programme. This strategy provides a unique opportunity to study the development of Covid-19 disease on mink farms. New research may challenge reservoir theory The question is this: Will mink populations infected with Covid-19 achieve herd immunity and virus die out - or will virus continue to live on in the mink farm environment? If the virus continues to thrive in the farm environment, even after Covid-19 disease have swept through the farm, it makes up a reservoir. It was the Dutch experts from OMT-Z who originally coined the theory about Covid-19 mink farm reservoirs. While the theory also underpins the accelerated farming ban in The Netherlands, it was necessarily based on epidemiological assumptions since the ‘clinical trial’ to prove it was aborted with the political decision to cull mink farms as a precautionary measure. This happened approximately four weeks after the farm was infected with Covid-19. This is not the case of the mink farm research in Denmark. Due to the current Danish no-cull strategy, the on-farm study of coronavirus can continue, and the researchers can directly monitor if the virus lives on in the farm environment or not. The research from Denmark will be published in the coming months. Besides mink farms in Denmark and The Netherlands, Covid-19 has also been found in one Spanish farm, and two farms in Utah, USA. The Spanish farm was culled as a precautionary measure, while an isolation strategy was imposed on the two farms in Utah.
IFF’s Sustainability Campaign Calls For Reconnecting with Nature
Sep 13 2020 - Slow down, consume less, and value craftsmanship, detail, and high quality. This is the message in the International Fur Federation's (IFF) new Sustainability Fashion campaign, that buys right into fashion's most pressing problems fashion - the environmental pollution. In just a few years, the 'buy and throw away'-culture characterising today's fast fashion markets has been put into the spotlight by fashion researchers and NGOs, who say fundamental changes in the production and consumption of clothing is needed to avoid environmental disaster. "There is a need to rewire fashion, to rethink how we consume fashion from both perspectives: as brands as well as consumers. The fashion system has become too fast, too scattered, emotionless, destructive and out of touch. In all modesty, natural fur ticks all the boxes of slow, responsible fashion. Our campaign is about highlighting exactly that," Jean-Pierre Rouphael, Director of Fashion at IFF, said. Fast fashion, driven by overproduction and blamed for lack of environmental responsibility, is often criticised for its contribution to GHG emissions and plastic pollution. Policymakers and sustainability experts are calling for a halt to the current linear model and advocate for ‘kinder to nature’ and more responsible approach, which is at the hear of ‘slow fashion.
Covid-19: Mink Farm Research to Provide Important Vaccine Knowledge
Sep 12 2020 - A mink farm in Eastern Denmark is subject to research that will provide unique knowledge in the fight against coronavirus. The 1.300 minks on this farm were infected with Covid-19, quite likely back in April sometime, but by now the animal population has achieved herd immunity and developed Covid-19 antibodies. This provides researchers with a unique opportunity to study antibody levels in an entire population. Amongst the answers, this research may provide the efficiency of a possible Covid-19 vaccine. "Antibody levels are anticipated to decrease over time, but we don’t know how fast or homogenous it will happen. We can learn a lot from mink farm samples. To begin with, we are very interested in knowing for how long a good antibody response can be observed in mink. Antibody levels have an effect on how well a possible vaccine will work, and how well you are protected against possible new infection," Anne Sofie Hammer, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, said. The research farm is relatively small in terms of pelt production, but for research purposes, it is a large population. In addition, the minks are roughly the same age and housed under the same conditions, and this makes up for a clinical trial setting not easily replicated elsewhere, if at all. "In order to become better at handling COVID-19, it is important to provide as much knowledge as possible about how the infection develops in both animals and humans. This is the basis for constantly optimising the prevention and treatment of the infectious disease, and this is a unique opportunity," said Anne Sofie Hammer. In the coming months results from research conducted on a number of Danish mink farms will be published, and become a part of the global fight against Covid-19. Also, Dutch researchers have published papers from on-farm research that is valuable in this regard. "The minks appear to develop Covid-19 disease in a manner similar to the pattern seen in humans. Most animals stay healthy following infection, but some animals, and perhaps particularly animals that have a less well-developed immune system, can develop severe pneumonia," Anne Sofie Hammer said.
Sustainable Fur Forum
Putting Circularity Into Action: Next SFF Webinar Open for Registration
Sep 07 2020 - The Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF) will hold its second event on 29 September, in the form of a webinar. Circular economy, a necessary and major development for a sustainable European economy, will be at the centre of the SFF webinar, that will be chaired by MEP Juozas Olekas. The New Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the European Commission last March encompasses the upcoming comprehensive EU Strategy for Textiles. Textiles are actually the fourth highest-pressure category for the use of primary raw materials and water, and less than 1 per cent of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles. By contrast, the fur sector is an excellent example of a circular production system with upcycling taking place throughout the value chain. Indeed, while most textiles have short product life and rather quickly end up in landfills, natural fur has technical properties for extraordinary long lifetime. With proper care, fur garments can last for several decades. During this meeting - taking place from 13h to 14.30h - we will seek to engage discussion on the policy priorities of the European fur sector for a circular, sustainable and responsible fur value chain, also in light of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. We welcome MEP Juozas Olekas (chair of the Sustainable Fur Forum) and Mrs Johanne Stenstrup, who is sustainable fashion campaigner, author, and entrepreneur. Registrations are open until Friday, 25 of September via this link. View the agenda of the webinar A link to the webinar will be shared with participants prior to the meeting. For further information, please contact: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Consumers do not throw away natural fur garments
Aug 21 2020 - The trademark problem of fast fashion is its short life. Various surveys estimate the life time of clothing between 2 and 3 years, for the most part before incarceration. From a sustainability perspective it is problematic when products are rather quickly replaced with new, resource-intensive products. According to the European Commission, long active life is currently considered the most efficient way to improve sustainability in fashion. Natural fur garments are famed for their long life time, but a new survey from the International Fur Federation bring real data to the argument. Across the four largest natural fur markets (Germany, Italy, UK and France) in Europe, 76 percent of fur owners said their natural fur garments will be given extended life through remodeling, donation or re-sale, when the garment is no longer in use. While the properties may vary between different fur types, natural fur generally has very good technical characteristics for long life. The higher price levels characterizing handcrafted products like fur garments is a well-established parameter for longer fashion product life, but interestingly product lifetime and sustainability also begins to have value to consumers in its own right. "It is definitely an argument that fur is a product that can be either upcycled through redesigning, or naturally recycled if you out put it in the soil. People understand these things now. Five years ago nobody cared, but today we talk much more about sustainability than we did before," German furrier Tim Mersmann said. Repairment and remodelling is core business From his shop ‘Mersmann Design’ in Münster, Germany, he sells a range of natural furs in addition to other natural leather materials. He estimates that 40 percent of Mersmann Design’s turnover on fur garments stem from redesign and repairing, while 60 percent of the turnover is generated from sales of virgin fur. Across Germany however, he believes turnover from redesigning and repairing of fur garments is considerably larger than 40 percent. Yet, the possibility of extending garment life comes as a surprise to consumers of the fast fashion age, to whom the bone marrow reaction is to simply replace old stuff with something new. "Many of the people who come in here don’t even know redesign exist. Some people come in with the motivation that they want to sell an old fur coat, or they want to know what kind of fur it is. We tell them, you have something of value here. A perfect, long-lasting material, and then we show them different possible redesigns. It often works," Tim Mersmann said. "The sales speech is supported by brochures outlining the possibilities with redesign, and fur technique samples displayed in the shop. Redesigning is also advertised in the street windows of Mersmann Design, and it should be a market of opportunity: only 16% of Germans in possession of a fur garment have had it redesigned, and Tim Mersmann think there are many old fur garments stored around Germany that could achieve new life through redesign – and thus contribute to a greener planet. Design for extended use Another sustainability advantage of handcrafted clothing is the opportunity to design for extended use. As many as 50 percent of the fur coats Tim Mersmann sell are reversible, making the garment suited for different occasions. "Here in Münster people are conservative and don’t want to show off, so they wear the fur inside. If they go to a posh place the fur will be outside, but if they go to the market the fur can be on the inside. I tell our customers: 'you have to wear it, and have fun with it'. A lamb or a mink coat can easily be worn for 10 years, so instead of buying many jackets releasing microfibers, you can buy one fur coat, and you have something that is more sustainable - and the price is the same in the long run," he said.
EU Needs Comprehensive Legislation on Animal Welfare
Jun 09 2020 - The European Fur community welcomes the recent publication of a roadmap for the evaluation of the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals. The Fitness Check is part of the actions on animal welfare foreseen by the Farm to Fork Strategy to help the European Commission reflect on what further legislative and non-legislative actions are needed to align the EU’s animal welfare regulatory framework with the objectives of the F2F Strategy and the Green Deal. According to the fur sector, a simplified legislative framework and appropriate communication and information to consumers are the two critical aspects for a successful strategy. Far before the release of the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating in favour of a single and comprehensive EU legislative framework for animal welfare. Up to now, the legislation mostly includes general provisions (e.g. Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes) and some rules regarding species-specific issues but no overarching legislation. Thus, various animal production systems and different parts of the value chain are covered by differing requirements, which has caused a fragmentation of animal welfare rules for livestock. The solution against this fragmentation is the adoption of a single and comprehensive Animal Welfare Framework Law on the model of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (‘Animal Health Law’). The latter lays down general and specific rules for the prevention and control of transmissible animal diseases and ensures a harmonised approach to animal health across the EU. Similarly, a comparable Framework Regulation for animal welfare should apply to the entire EU livestock sector to streamline the amount of existing legislative acts and identify a harmonised set of science-based animal welfare principles. This includes clarity of duties and harmonised training for all actors of the value chain (farmers, transporters, vets, competent authorities), a uniform AW assessment methodology and sharing of good practices between the Member States. A new legislative framework will only be effective if it leads to a shift from input-based to output-based indicators. Animal scientists called for adopting animal-based indicators as a way to measure animals’ wellbeing rather than resource-based as they look directly at the individual animal and assess their physical and mental states. The WelFur programme, developed and launched by the fur sector in 2009, is a good example of such an approach. The Welfur certification requires three farm assessments and the maintenance of the certificate involves one assessment per year. It covers all EU fur farms, and without it, fur farmers cannot sell their production via international fur auction houses. Despite total compliance with animal welfare requirements and private industry initiatives like WelFur, often, consumers’ knowledge of animal welfare is not based on the reality of farming systems but prejudices and received ideas. The mismatch is often attributed to the disconnection between the rural and urban world. European farmers rely on adequate communication to help consumers understand fully the animal welfare improvements taking place on farms. Adequate discussion about animal welfare should start with a clear definition and explanations about measuring methods expending beyond emotions and anthropomorphism. In this regard, the EU should take a position in favour of fact-based and science-based indicators for animal welfare. But the Union also has another role; to encourage certification and labelling systems based on science and third-party assessments, on the model of WelFur, through financial and non-financial incentives. Such a move could steer consumers’ purchasing habits through reliable product information and offer a commercial advantage to producers adopting responsible practices. Such a step would be in line with the increased transparency foreseen by the F2F Strategy and is directly linked to the objective of improving animal welfare within the EU livestock sector. Fur Europe will gladly bring its contribution to the European Commission’s fitness check by hoping that Commission will agree that AW is not a cost but an asset. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on the quality of their products, which in turn depends on the good health and welfare farmers provide to animals. This asset requires an overarching Animal Welfare Framework Law relying on science and fostering transparency and labelling schemes.
Change in Fashion? Experts Say It is Now or Never
Jun 09 2020 - The coronavirus is a chance for the fashion industry to start over, claim leading fashion experts. Leading industry professionals see in Covid-19 an opportunity for the apparel and footwear industry to reinvent itself and move away from the mass production, contributing to its daunting environmental impact. "We will have to pick up the residue and reinvent everything from scratch once the virus is under control. And this is where I am hopeful for: another and better system, to be put in place with more respect for human labour and conditions," said Li Edelkoort, one of the world's most influential trend forecasters, advising fashion companies and brands around the world in an interview for Dezeen. According to the trend forecaster, the coronavirus epidemic also caused a "quarantine of consumption" which could change profoundly the way people think of fashion. How we got here? The global health crisis caused by COVID 19 triggered an economic recession for the fashion sector, but also raised questions about overproduction and excessive consumerism driving the fast fashion industry. With retail shops closed and supply chains disrupted, warehouses started filling up with unsold overstock, exposing the unsustainability of fast fashion business model. Fearing the economic fallout, people started prioritising purchases and demand for fashion products dropped. Studies show that 65 % of consumers in Europe and the US decreased their spending on apparel and footwear. The result – products manufactured before the outbreak are filling the shelves of warehouses, for which even online shopping is not a remedy. Designed to create fast profit by producing, using and disposing of a product, the fast fashion has been evading any environmental responsibility for a long time. Now, combined with the unravelling health crisis and an economic recession, the fast fashion model, becomes a recipe for disaster with social and environmental implications. With high street brands pumping out as many as 10-15 collections per year, questions about the overstock are arising. According to The State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update high-street fashion brands will try to sell the old collections at discounts to compensate for lost profit and lure consumers back in shops. This could harm small retailers and manufacturers, who don't have the same competitive advantage as the multinationals and don't manufacture products in advance. The report warns of the possibility that fast fashion brands could resort to old tricks such as sending clothes to incarceration. However, this could be a risky move triggering a backlash. Given the complexity of the situation, many experts are trying to promote more sustainable alternatives. In an interview for Euronews, the head of British Fashion Council (BFC) Caroline Rush said that upcycling the excess stock of garments could reduce to their environmental impact and prevent waste. "My optimism is, as we go through this, that we really think about the inventory challenge that we're facing for this season, and use that as a unique opportunity to really think down the line: what will happen to that stock, where will it go?" said Caroline Rush. According to her, fashion designers should be compelled to consider recycling their excess stock of garments, "so that the product we have is re-used, shredded, goes back into new yarns and created for the future". However, when it comes to recycling in fashion, statistics are grim - only less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles. A Catalyst for Change Global crises are known to trigger an unexpected change in consumers behaviour. After the 2008 financial crisis, many people shifted to "fewer, but better" philosophy by investing in good quality timeless goods rather than buying into volumes. Now experts predict a further rise in popularity of slow fashion, a shift led by consumers trying to be more responsible in their purchases. This could also mean a surge in the repair services and second-hand shops as a means to prolong the lifespan of clothes. These two aspects of both slow fashion and fur also offer more affordable opportunities for consumers. "People are keener than ever before to celebrate longevity and imperfection in clothes, particularly now that we are so aware of the impact our throw-away culture is having on the planet," said Suzie de Rohan Willner from the British slow fashion label Toast for Vogue. Isolation gave time to consumers to slow down and rethink their entire approach towards fashion, consumerism and sustainability. "Climate change is the next great challenge we need to address together, and this pandemic is forcing us to acknowledge that economic, environmental and human health are all deeply interconnected, and meaningful solutions will only be possible if integration, collaboration and transparency are at the forefront of a new industry paradigm," said SAC Executive Director Amina Razvi. Economists estimate that despite the contraction of 27 to 30 %, the fashion would also be among the first one to recover. But a crisis is always a catalyst for change. Many hope that now, facing consumers demand for a change, the global apparel and footwear industry would finally do what it was promising for a long time – slow down and take responsibility.
Mink Farms Do Not Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19
Jun 08 2020 - In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, mink farming has achieved special attention following the outbreak of COVID-19 on three mink farms in The Netherlands in late April. Several other animals including cats, dogs, tigers, monkeys, bats, hamsters and ferrets, have proved susceptible to SARS CoV-2. The outbreak on mink farms in The Netherlands, however, also indicated the first case of animal-to-human transmission of the virus. Naturally, this gives rise to speculations about mink farming’s potential risk to public health, sometimes fueled by animal rights organisations, who are already opposed to fur farming for ideological reasons. In an extension of this, we would like to stress that mink farms are not contributing to the spread of Covid-19 amongst the human population. Both expert- and government bodies across the world continue to maintain there is no evidence of animals playing a significant role in spreading the virus that causes Covid-19. To illustrate the point, there are almost seven million people in the world, who have been infected by Covid-19 via human-to-human transmission, at the time of writing. By comparison, there are two cases of mink-to-human transmission (none of these is actually confirmed with 100% certainty). No more cases have occurred following the introduction of protective gear on infected farms in The Netherlands. As the virus is found to spread via droplets, it is furthermore unlikely that virus will spread over greater distances and make up a risk to for example neighbours to mink farms. This is further confirmed in research collecting dust and air samples the outside infected Dutch mink farms. The fur sector has issued extensive biosecurity guidelines to all mink farmers across the world. Naturally, it is our objective to keep SARS CoV-2 out of the farms in the first place. We are committed to the health of animals and people, and the guidelines are subject to updates should relevant new knowledge emerge, or other developments require it. A total of 13 mink farms in The Netherlands were found to be infected by the coronavirus. In all cases, the source of transmission is believed to be farm employees. On 3 June 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Health decided to cull the herds on these mink farms. Mink farmers have been financially compensated for their loss this year and can return to production next season. In summary: • Mink farms do not contribute to the spread of Covid-19 amongst human populations • Extensive biosecurity guidelines have been issued to mink farmers across the world • We monitor the situation closely and work together with fur associations, experts and national authorities to safeguard human and animal health
Fur Europe issues updated corona guidelines for mink farmers
May 26 2020 - On the basis of ongoing research on four mink farms in The Netherlands, Fur Europe has updated the guidelines for mink farmers, which were issued first time 26 April. The updated guidelines reflect new findings in the research suggesting SARS CoV-2 may be transmissible from mink to human. Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said the risk of such animal-to-human transmission of the virus outside fur farms is "negligible." Fur Europe continues to monitor the development in The Netherlands. Download Covid-19 disease guidelines for mink farmers (pdf).
New Covid-19 research results from Dutch mink farms
May 20 2020 - Based on initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it may be possible that an infection from mink back to a farm employee has occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands have been infected. Based on new initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it is plausible may be possible that an infection from mink back to farm employee has occurred. It is not possible to say with 100 per cent certainty how the contamination occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands could have been infected. The Dutch authorities maintain that the risk of human exposure to virus outside mink farms is negligible. Biosecurity measures have however been legally enforced on all Dutch mink farms as a consequence of the new findings, and non-essential visitors are not allowed on mink farms at present. So far the Dutch Minister of Agriculture rejects that culling of the herd is a necessary precaution. "The Dutch authorities have so far successfully taken responsibility for containing Covid-19 on the mink farms. Fur Europe has already issued biosecurity guidelines across the industry, and we will continue to react on basis of the ongoing research in the Netherlands," says Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe. Covid-19 is known to have infected a total of five farms, all in the same area of the Netherlands. As a consequence of the new findings, screening for antibodies will take place on all mink farms in the Netherlands. Farm cats are under suspicion for transmission of virus between farms, and this is a part of the ongoing research. Air and dust samples collected outside the farms have demonstrated virus is not airborne, and a 400-meter precautionary security zone around the five infected mink farms have been lifted.
We already know fur has long life time. Here is how it gets longer
May 19 2020 - There is a technical lifetime to clothing, and then there is a social life of clothing. The technical lifetime is about the physical strength of materials, how long does it last without breaking or ‘wear out’. "A product like natural fur has the technical potential for long lifetime, so it is important to work with the social side," said Ingun Grimstad Klepp, a research professor at Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University. She conducts research on sustainable textile and clothing, with a particular focus on the user-phase of clothing. This area of clothing is somewhat underexposed in the sustainability debate, yet understanding how and why people wear their clothes is critically important to reduce the environmental impact of fashion. This is based on the simple observation that the more we wear the same clothes, the less we will buy new, resource-demanding clothes. The user-phase of clothes can be studied empirically as the connection between material and cultural aspects of clothing and consumption. Here you can find answers to why some garments become favourite clothes, while other garments are hardly used, if ever. Lifetime is impacted by a number of social or cultural factors, important ones being whether the clothes fit, and what use we have for the particular types of clothes in our wardrobes – active outdoor people will utilise outdoor garments more excessively. What is ‘in fashion’ is less important to active use than people may think, but reflects that active use of clothing sometimes changes over time. "Waterproof suits became more used when the design became more light and functional. A wedding dress, on the other hand, will not be worn more than once by the same user," Ingun Klepp said. Personalisation and flexibility Improving the social or cultural life of natural fur would apply mainly to the design- and manufacturing part of the fur community’s value chain. It would imply to take advantage of the already strong technical characteristics of fur and support its extended use in the future. At the design level, this can unfold as preparing for multiple users by preparing for future refurbishing and repair – think push buttons for example – while also paying attention to personalisation and garment fitting. Areas more exposed to being ‘worn out’ can be made replaceable, and good quality can be enforced by the use of good technical quality in add-ons like buttons and linings. "You can work with the adaption of fur for different occasions, for example, clothes that work for both festive and less festive occasions, as something that protects against the cold, but still usable when the weather is mild. Overall, you can say it is about flexibility," Ingun Klepp said. At a commercial level, it might unfold as new business models targeting the sharing economy. Innovation could also arise from changing the original product: "It is a very interesting feature of fur that products can be reused and turned into something else," Ingun Klepp said. In Norway however, this is not happening a lot. Many furs are stocked in Norwegian cellars and ceilings and are simply not being put to use. "There are many people who don’t dare use their inherited furs – or buy second-hand fur. I believe this is wrong. Everything that has already been produced ought to be used with good consciousness," Ingun Klepp said. Fur farming will be banned in Norway from 2024, following a decade-long political debate that has helped shape the stigmatisation of fur that exists in Norway today. Thus it created attention when Ingun Klepp publicly promoted the use of second-hand furs in Norway for environmental reasons, a position quickly disputed by animal lobbyists fearing increased use of second-hand furs will add to the legitimation of ‘new’ fur. "Those who disagree with my talk about symbolic value, but for me, it is a matter of good utilisation of resources," Ingun Klepp said. Whether this little part of the sustainability debate in Norway will lead to more Norwegians wearing second-hand fur has yet to be proved, but Ingun Klepp says the reactions suggest many people principally agree. Clothing lifetime becomes important This resonates well with Ingun Klepp’s expectations that a ‘new way of consuming’ is underway to its breakthrough: "Today, people take mass consumption for granted, and consumers have gotten used to it, and consume accordingly because they have gotten used to being able to buy ‘new’ all the time. But it was not always like this, mass consumption was a revolution when it happened, but consumer behaviour has matured beyond mass consumption, there is an element of ‘been there, done that’ around today. The interest for re-use, knitting and home production is growing," Ingun Klepp said. But one thing is talking about fashion’s transition towards sustainability. Another is what actually happens. This part is largely still in front of us, but change may happen fast: "We don’t see rapid changes in consumer development. On the other hand, if we look at the debate it is evident it has changed a lot. There are many things which point in the direction of fast-paced changes. It has to do with both youth and politics," Ingun Klepp said, with reference to the climate-conscious youth movement, and the undeniable emergence of green reform legislation across the world, before stressing her point with a hands-on example: "The debate that follows plastic waste in the oceans is a part of a lifetime discussion. The whole discussion over plastic is about user-phase and lifetime, and it has led to certain single-use plastic products being banned. It is clear that we are now discussing these things, and therefore lifetime becomes important."
Animal Welfare Expert: Welfare Cannot Be Assessed Through Checking Walls
May 15 2020 - Resource and management indicators could be used to identify risk factors, but welfare cannot be assessed through checking walls or floors, says Antoni Dalmau, an animal welfare researcher from Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Spain. He spent the last 15 years studying the complexity of one of the long-standing issues in farming – how to ensure a quality life for farmed animals. “Animal welfare is a condition of the individual animal, and animal welfare science is more and more about the assessment of the animal’s own experience. Only animal-based indicators can give you an idea about that.’’ The physical and emotional health of an animal as well as its behaviour, known as animal welfare, is at the centre of a long-lasting discussion between policymakers, scientists, and farmers. In recent years, it has also become part of the broader debate about sustainability practices in farming. But before anything else, animal welfare is a question of science. In order to evaluate the wellbeing of farmed animal species, scientists rely on animal-based indicators. They examine the physical and emotional state, the behaviour and even the appearance of an animal to determine the quality of life on the farm. But the process is not straightforward. To get a detailed picture, researchers take into account the so-called resource-based and management-based indicators which measure the environment where animals are bred. According to Mr Dalmau, although they provide important additional information, they cannot be given the same weight the measures which look directly into the animal. “You cannot assess what you are not observing. You are not assessing welfare if you are not using animal-based measures. If you are observing walls, you are assessing walls.” Creating an assessment based on the housing systems, for example, could give simplified and even misleading results, which do to reflect truly animal’s state of wellbeing. According to him, many people prefer these indicators because they are easier to communicate and understand. “NGOs are used to work with resource and management-based parameters because they are easy to apply and to communicate to their funding bodies and society - I don’t allow cages; I don’t allow tail docking; I don’t allow castration; I ask for free-range. This is easy to assess and to communicate.’ Narrowing it down the assessment method jeopardises the scientific objectivity, adds Mr Dalmau. “For most of the people, this means, better. But not for the animals. For them, easier, faster and cheaper is not better. For them, what is better is that their interests and states are taken into account.” According to him, this is also the reason why it is difficult to create one single animal welfare law across Europe. EU policymakers spent the last decade looking into ways to how to create a common framework for animal welfare legislation. Currently, there are not harmonised rules across the continent, and animal welfare is regulated by EU directives while rules in member states vary. More than a decade ago, the European Commission launched the Welfare Quality project in an effort to understand how animal welfare could be quantified. The research project endorsed the animal-based indicators and prompted the creation of protocols for cattle, pigs and poultry. Later, it also laid the groundwork for industry-led, voluntary certification programmes such as WelFur and WELFAIR™ - a livestock farms and slaughterhouses certification programme in Spain covering different animals. The European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals is the latest initiative to collect and compare animal welfare data, and possibly help policymakers to create common legislation. According to Mr Dalmau, many expect science to provide a clear and simple, black or white answer about animal welfare, whereas the issue is much more complicated. ‘’Welfare is not present or absent, black or white; it is continuous improvement, and for this reason a good scientific validating and a realistic plan are important.’’ Current animal welfare programmes have been time-consuming and expensive to create. They required scientific knowledge, validating the science, training assessors and carrying out the large-scale inspections. But they also proved it is possible to evaluate and quantify animal welfare through science – knowledge which one day could be useful when the time for common animal welfare law comes.
Sustainable Fur Forum
Farm to Fork Strategy: Opportunity for Animal Welfare
May 12 2020 - "It’s going to be a strong proposal," said the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans on 22 April in the European Parliament regarding the upcoming 'Farm to Fork Strategy' (F2F), one of the cornerstones of the Green Deal, the EU’s flagship environmental policy. Twice delayed, the F2F Strategy is expected to be released in May. Although not directly involved in food production, Fur Europe looks forward to the publication of the Strategy as it should trigger evaluation and possible revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, according to a version of the draft Strategy leaked in March. Indeed, Fur Europe – which represents the European fur value chain - regards the F2F Strategy as an opportunity to develop coherent and future-proof animal welfare policies in the agri-business. The last available version of the draft leaked on 6th of March is promising "the Commission will evaluate the existing EU legislation with the view to revising it”. Since long before the arrival of the new Commission and the communication around the Green Deal and the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating the adoption of a new EU Animal Welfare Strategy, including an animal welfare framework law covering all farmed animals (food and non-food producing animals) at all life stages, to update and replace current legislation. In the context of a future review of the EU legislation on animal welfare, Fur Europe points out that decision-making related to animal welfare should be based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence and facts from the field in order to provide legal protection for high animal welfare standards essential for sustainable animal farming systems. Priority should be given to the development of animal welfare indicators. The particularity of animal-based indicators is that they measure several aspects directly on individual animals. Since the launch of the animal welfare programme Welfur in 2009, the European fur industry has worked with animal indicators as the modern, professional way to monitor different aspects of animal welfare (housing, feeding, health, behaviour). Welfur is based on the principles of the European Commission-funded Welfare Quality® project and has been developed by independent scientists from seven European universities. European fur farms under the WelFur scheme are certified by independent assessors. Fur farms are assessed with 20 different measurements chosen for their reliability and scientific validity. The certification requires three farm assessments, while the maintenance of the WelFur certificate requires one assessment per year. Fur farmers who do not score high enough do not obtain the WelFur certificate. Without the certificate, fur farmers cannot sell their furs via international fur auction houses. So far, 21 fur farms in Europe, less than 1 per cent of assessed farms, have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. All fur producing countries or regions have a so-called Welfur advisor available for them. These advisors are veterinarians who help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. Likewise, Welfur is part of the self-regulations recognised by the European Commission. Such a recognition implies that the system has been scrutinised for its validity and credibility and therefore qualifies for legal implementation. The EURCAW-Small Animals (or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals) – which has started operating in 2020, will have the responsibility to introduce animal indicators. Indeed, the comparison of Welfur results from different countries could be helpful for the centre, which is competent for the welfare of fur animals, although its primary focus should be on poultry welfare until 2022. In parallel to EURCAW-Small Animals, Welfur would bring a significant contribution to the work of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, whose role is to promote an enhanced dialogue on animal welfare issues, which are relevant at EU level among competent authorities, businesses, civil society and scientists. The representation of the fur industry in the Platform should thus be ensured, or at least ad hoc invitations should be guaranteed to interested stakeholders. The F2F Strategy will aim to develop a baseline and indicators on key animal welfare provisions, and the Welfur method offers a good example of an animal welfare programme. Definitely, Welfur and the future revision of the EU animal welfare legislation triggered by the F2F Strategy will be in the coming month major topics of discussion within the Sustainable Fur Forum, the informal platform of discussion in the European Parliament that offers high-level expertise and scientific knowledge on fur related topics to MEPs.
EURCAW-Small Animals is open: WelFur to play a role
Apr 28 2020 - The EURCAW-Small Animals - or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals - started operating in 2020. Europe’s other small farmed animals are all the fur farmed species, so the centre will have direct impact on European fur farming. EURCAW-Small Animals’ main objective is to provide support to the European Commission and Member States in the official implementation and control of animal welfare regulations. Introducing animal indicators are amongst the responsibilities of the centre, in addition to collection of comparable data on the welfare of animals across Europe for the European Commission. It goes without saying WelFur works along these lines already. Much attention will however be directed to poultry in the first two years of the centre’s existence. "The centre’s main task is to support the national welfare bodies in the Member States and the Commission with officials controls on the welfare and compliance with legal standards. I imagine comparison of WelFur results from different countries would be interesting in the context of the centre," Henrik Steen Møller, Aarhus University said. EURCAW-Small Animals is a consortium formed by the Institute of AgriFood Research (IRTA), the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation-ANSES (France), the Aarhus Universitet-Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (Italy).
Fur Europe issues guidelines as mink test positive for COVID-19
Apr 26 2020 - Three mink on a Dutch mink farm have tested positive for COVID-19, and a second Dutch farm is assumed to be infected with COVID-19 as well. Dutch authorities said COVID-19 most likely have been transmitted from farm employees to animals. One employee has been tested positive, while others have shown symptoms of COVID-19. 'Dutch authorities also stressed that transmission risk from animals to humans is considered negligible. 'Human to human' remains the driving for the spread of COVID-19. The Dutch authorities are now taking blood samples from animals on the farms in question in order to test for anti-bodies and measure the spread of the virus within the farms in question. The information gathered can also be important for human epidemiological knowledge. Fur Europe has immediately issued advice and guidelines to members in all mink producing countries. Update: Following the first findings, mink on four farms, all in the same area, have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of diseased animals remain very low: "Only a few mink showed symptoms of the disease on the farms. The mink are kept in separate pens, which means that there is little to no contact between the animals. It appears to be an acute outbreak, where the farms quickly overcome the peak of the disease. The chance that mink will function as a reservoir of the virus appears to be small," Dutch experts from Waagenen University explain in a Q&A.
Fur pelt prices are about to go up again
Apr 23 2020 - Following a price bubble in the period 2010-2013, fur pelt prices have been dropping significantly with a subsequent decrease in world production. The same market development has been observed before and history suggests pelt prices are about to go up again soon, according to Senior Advisor at University of Copenhagen's Department of Food and Resource Economics, Henning Otte Hansen. He has earlier written a book about the Danish mink production and the underlying economic structures of the global fur trade. Now he has examined price- and production statistics for natural fur pelts from 1950 to 2019. "The price increases are about to come. It’s only a matter of the time perspective,” he said, explaining mink pelts are price elastic products, a characteristic achieved because by a market without the market regulations are known from other agricultural products, where prices do not vary much over time. The price-setting on the market for natural fur pelts is truly expressing supply and demand, although it takes a few years for the supply to adjust to demand when prices first begin to drop. “You can tell from the statistics that price and supply are closely associated. When the supply - the global production of pelts - have been decreasing for a while, the prices begin to go up. If prices go up the supply goes up as well. When the supply again exceeds the demand, the pelt prices drop, and rather quickly and dramatically too.” This pattern happened from around 2000 when prices were at the bottom, and towards 2013, when prices again reached a peak. “When the price was at the top in 1987, it took about 8 years before it began to increase dramatically again. If the same pattern repeats this time, prices will begin to increase again in 2021 latest,” he said. The effects of the COVID-19 may, however, impact the curve. “If the corona-crisis develops into economic crisis and recession the demand for fur will drop. As the demand for fur products is relatively dependent on income, a poor economy can impact the demand considerably,” Henning Otte Hansen said, but pointed out the negative fluctuation in pelt price that followed the global financial crisis in 2009, was short and the upward price curve for that period continued shortly after. Another possibility is that economic effects from the corona-crisis extend the period before prices go up again. The global mink production has now dropped to about 45 million pelts, down from all-time high 87 million in 2014. This is approximately the same as world production in 2007.
21 Fur Farms Failed to Obtain WelFur Certificate
Apr 08 2020 - Out of 2,787 European mink and fox farms which so far have had the initial three WelFur assessments, 21 farms - corresponding to 0.8 per cent - have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. Without a WelFur certificate, the farm owners are prevented from selling their pelts at the international fur auction houses. The auctions are the regular marketplace for natural fur pelts, and without access to the market, these farmers are effectively put out of business. Other 57 farms, equaling 2 per cent, failed to obtain a certificate after three assessments. However, by later on passing a so-called 'correction assessment' before which critical issues were brought to order, all of these achieved their certification. "I regret we were not able to get everybody on board. At least it shows the certification scheme works. It’s not our ambition to let go of European fur farmers; it is rather our ambition to educate and guide everybody towards farm practices which supports good animal welfare. We welcome fur farmers back into WelFur if they can demonstrate they have improved their farm or management practices sufficiently," John Papsø, chairman of Fur Europe said. All countries or regions have a so-called WelFur advisor around; typically these are veterinarians working with the national fur breeders’ association. This person’s job is to help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. The WelFur advisor is particularly important to fur farmers who failed the original WelFur assessment because they can help change farmers to pass their correction assessment. Another 152 farms currently have no certification, but most of these are awaiting the third and final assessment before a certificate can be issued.
Sustainable Fur Forum
“We must make sure the fur sector stays viable and can weather the crisis”
Apr 08 2020 - Fur Europe is glad to count on the support of MEP Juozas Olekas, who has kindly accepted to Chair the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF). Mr Olekas became Member of the European Parliament in July 2019. Originally from Lithuania, he has a long-standing experience as former Defence and Health Minister. A surgeon by training, he sits in the European Parliament in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and he has taken upon himself to promote the interests of the EU farming sector. We asked him some questions about his new engagement as SFF Chair: Mr Olekas, why did you decide to become involved with the SFF? For many years, the fur industry has been surrounded by many unanswered questions or stereotypes that are unrealistic. Personally, I feel it is my duty not only to ensure that these questions are answered to our citizens but also to replace stereotypes with reality-based facts. Moreover, one of the main things that attracted me to the SFF was the promotion of the WelFur certification – which is a modern animal welfare standard, based on concrete scientific evidence and assessed by independent parties. A sector so dedicated to this kind of practice deserves our support. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the fur industry will face in the next five years? Currently, with the coronavirus sweeping across the world, there is a need to focus on the effects this major health crisis will have on the economy. The fur sector will also, unfortunately, feel the consequences. In essence, natural fur is a very specific product, and the demand for it can drop if the crisis persists and people’s income suffers a considerable decrease. The sector should continue to innovate and offer quality products, while also working on showcasing the environmentally-friendly and sustainable aspect of fur farming. Therefore, we must take all possible measures to ensure that the fur industry can continue to guarantee animal welfare and also high-quality products, which are two inseparable aspects. In light of the current health and economic crisis caused by the spreading of the coronavirus, what do you think the EU should do to support the European fur sector, considering that many SMEs like farms and manufacturers will be severely hit by the countermeasures adopted across Europe? The fur sector should be supported just as all the other sectors of the economy will be. It makes up a significant portion of the economy – exports of furs from the EU makeup almost three billion euro – and is an important employer in the rural areas, where jobs, in general, are not too easy to find. A hundred thousand people all over the UE work in the sector – people who usually live in areas where employment is scarce. If the sector is left to collapse, all those jobs will be lost, and a significant number of people will have few other opportunities for gainful employment. Therefore, we must make sure the sector stays viable and robust and can weather the crisis with as little loss as possible. We must bear in mind that the fur industry is mainly based on family businesses, which we Socialists and Democrats aim to secure throughout Europe. It is indisputable that it is these family businesses based on tradition, togetherness and solidarity that should be our priority, in order to protect our citizens and their interests during this crisis. When, if not now, can we provide them with the kind of essential support they currently need so much? The first event of the Forum will be focused on the new Circular Economy Action Plan recently launched by the European Commission. What role do you think the fur industry can play in making the EU economy more sustainable and circular? The fur industry can be a very important player in the circular economy – mainly because the sector itself, by its specifics, is very sustainable and an example of circularity. Fur farms use the waste from other agri-food sectors as a feed for the animals, thus using up the waste from food production that would otherwise remain out of the circle of production. The waste of fur farms is also used in other sectors of agriculture – as fertiliser or biofuel. And the product of those same farms – the fur – is inherently long-lasting and biodegradable, as opposed to most synthetic fabrics. We must recognise the benefits provided by the fur sector and make sure its role as an example of a circular economy is noted.
Fur Accessories Designer is Sewing Masks to Fight Pandemic
Apr 07 2020 - Leaving aside the furriers’ knife and the leather tools for a while, the Greek designer Alexandros Kotoulas, who is behind the brand Alexquisite, has started sewing face masks to help protect people against COVID-19. The studio in Athens, usually full of fur scraps and leather pieces, has now been transformed into a small factory with patterns, sewing machines and textiles laying around. The coronavirus outbreak halted most of his project and left Alex, like many of us, stuck at home under lockdown. But instead of working on his next collections, the former Fur Summer school participant who trained at Louis Vuitton decided to help those who could be affected by the crisis. “There was no availability of protective masks, and I thought I could use my sewing skills and invest my energy producing a small amount of them for people that would need them most,’’ says Alex. Like most counties in the world, Greece is suffering the severe consequences of the pandemic with a shortage of protective equipment. The crisis prompted many creatives people like Alex to help however they can. Despite that the sewing process is straightforward for most people with basic skills, Alex came across another problem making his task more difficult. With commercial shops closed down, there is also a shortage of textile materials, prompting him to sticks to the main the basic principle of sustainability – use every single piece of the material and waste nothing. ‘’I am trying to find the smartest way to use my existing fabrics. I used all the cotton available in the workshop to produce the prototypes, and then I ended up using two bed sheets for the lack of other textiles!’’ Even if the masks he makes are not quite up to the standard of the medical ones, they offer adequate protection to those who wear them as long as they are made of cotton and not synthetic textiles which can’t be sterilised properly. Like many small businesses in the midst of the international crisis, Alex hopes that the fashion industry will recover and people will still want a small accessory and a bit of colour in their life. While this happens, he calls all designers and furriers to help with the effort saying all it takes is a sewing machine, textiles and desire to help.
Fur Associations Donate Protective Equipment and Funds to Hospitals
Apr 06 2020 - Fur farmers in Norway have donated 2,000 pieces of protective equipment to the health sector. "Contributing to the community is a matter of course for us since we have the equipment in stock the community needs. Through our daily work with animals, we know how important good infection control equipment is," said Guri Wormdahl, Head of Communications at the Norwegian Fur Breeders' Association. The donation was forwarded following a request by the Directorate of Health, who made a national call for protective equipment. Usually, the protective gear is distributed to fur farm visitors in Norway, but visits are not allowed at the moment. The 2,000 full-body protection gears are now being put to good use at Akerhus University Hospital in Oslo. Also, the International Fur Federation (IFF) is lending a hand to the community. Early April, IFF distributed a grant of 25,000 euro between hospitals in Italy, Greece, Romania, Canada and Turkey.
Traceability: Next Big Trend in Fashion (and Politics)
Mar 11 2020 - As EU officials prepare ambitious measures aiming to make supply chains more transparent, the fur sector launches new global traceability scheme in 2020. The International Fur Federation's (IFF) new certification and traceability programme FURMARK will introduce a new chemical standard to keep track of health and safety requirements. It will also monitor environmental standards during dressing and dyeing and in future will oversee human rights across the entire fur supply chain. FURMARK comes as the EU is trying to boost its efforts and do more about transparency. Instead of merely tracing processes through the supply chains, new legislative proposals plan to look at how a product is being made from a sustainable perspective. In the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission envisages a law to bind companies’ green claims to common Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) in a bid to tackle greenwashing. The action plan is proposing an electronic passport for products to contain information about emissions, expected lifespan, repairability and other sustainability information. EU policymakers also consider making due diligence mandatory for companies. With its vast market and globalised supply chains, the garment sector fell under the radar of legislators for human and workers’ rights violations and massive environmental impact of productions. But this increased scrutiny is not new for the fur sector. WelFur is an example of due diligence put in practice. A tool to identify animal welfare problems on the farm level of the fur supply chain, WelFur makes it possible to tackle issues accordingly. Based on the blockchain technology, FURMARK's traceability system would look at animal welfare, environmental concern and human rights issues through each stage of the supply chain. "We have a well-consolidated supply chain, and this allows us to provide real transparency and traceability, especially when it comes to animal welfare, fur dressing and sustainability standards," said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. As a result, different certification programmes and standards about fur from around the globe will follow the same standards of science, transparency and independent inspection. FURMARK certified fur could be traced back from its origin to the endpoint, enabling consumers to learn about how and where materials are sourced. The programme was developed in consultation with major brands such as the LVMH group and will kick off in 2020.
Sustainable Fur Forum
Sustainable Fur and the Circular Economy Action Plan
Mar 09 2020 - The textile and the clothing sectors are becoming central to the EU political discourse around the circular economy. This is illustrated by the European Green Deal, the new roadmap for a sustainable growth launched by the European Commission, which openly mentions the textile sector when referring to the European Commission's 'Circular Economy Action Plan'. This new plan aims to increase the circularity of the EU’s economy, preserve its natural environment and support the contribution of the EU’s industry in order to achieve a climate-neutral continent. The plan was presented on 11 March, and the fur sector is keen to contribute to its effective implementation at the coming Sustainable Fur Forum event in September. Natural fur is the ultimate example of a circular product The European Commission rightly counts the textile sector among those relying "mainly on unsustainable and sub-optimal use of resources, leading to excessive production of waste, and increasing the environmental footprint of our economy instead of bringing the needed decoupling". Yet, natural fur is a material characterised by longevity that generates little to no waste when it finally leaves the user-phase. Indeed, with proper care fur clothes last for decades, contrary to materials that intensify the environmental impacts due to their premature replacement. The longevity of natural fur stems from the material's durability as much as its ability to maintain a fresh look, and not 'wear out'. This makes natural fur an ideal material to repair, remodel and recycle. Keeping products in use for a long time is textbook circularity, but many modern products are not designed for longevity, and often most repair logistics are lacking. After decades of use, natural fur has the ability to biodegrade. As demonstrated by tests realised in 2018 by the Organic Waste Systems laboratory of Ghent (Belgium), natural fur biodegrades in landfill conditions through consumption by microorganisms of the carbon inside the fur. On the contrary, fake fur does not biodegrade as it is made of synthetic fibres, which break down into ever smaller pieces and eventually form microplastic fibres that are a serious polluter of all the world's oceans and waterways, as well as a serious threat to wildlife and human health. Upstream of the circularity of the material, farmed fur animals feed on waste products from the production of human food including chicken- and fish offal, pig blood and other protein sources. By buying these by-products, fur farms contribute to upcycling of waste generated by human food production and provide a source of revenue for thriving European bio-economy. Once the farming process is completed, fur farms supply by-products (manure, carcasses and soiled straw bedding) to other industries in order to produce second-generation biofuel, organic fertilizers or cosmetic products, thus completing the nutrient cycle. Sustainable Fur Forum: discussion about the Circular Economy Action Plan and beyond While fur owns intrinsic characteristics of sustainability (long-lasting, renewable, biodegradable) which make it one of the flagship productions of a circular economy, it is essential that the upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan enables the European fur value-chain to realize its potential to contribute to the transition towards responsible and sustainable use of the available resources. In this context, key concepts for the textile sector must be clearly defined (for example "recycling", "re-manufacturing", "reuse"), financial instruments shall be envisaged to help companies in their transition towards a more circular production, while consumers must be properly informed about the environmental impact of their choices and about the sustainable consumer behaviour. Beyond the Commission's next action plan, it is clear that the reflection around the further development of the economy in a circular way is one of utmost importance, and that this ground-breaking paradigm is likely to modify production and consumption patterns for many years to come. The role of fur in the circular economy will be at the heart of the next Sustainable Fur Forum event that is set to take place in September in the European Parliament of Brussels. More information will soon be available on the website sustainablefur.com.
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, the 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 Papsø and Ryan Holt, shared insight on the realities of using animal fur. Figures from the IFF show that around one-third of fur garments are purchased second-hand, 16 per cent of fur is restyled and only 12 per cent thrown away. Such figures reflect the essence of a circular economy, a concept for production and consumption seeking to design out waste. The circular economy is becoming increasingly popular in politics, not least in the European Union, where several upcoming legislative frameworks target product longevity and waste reduction. The International Fur Federation is a sister organisation to Fur Europe, representing the global fur trade. 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.