Society

COVID-19 Vaccine for Mink and Finnraccoon Underway


Jan 14 2021 - Researchers at the University of Helsinki are working together with the Finnish Fur Breeders' Association FIFUR  to develop a corona vaccine for mink and Finnraccoon. The goal is to have a vaccine that protects farm animals against Covid-19 as soon as possible for widespread use and distribution. "The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the Covid-19 disease, is not just a new infectious disease that poses a serious threat to human health. Its spread to animals in agriculture, the fur industry and wildlife in Finland must be prevented quickly and effectively. This may require exceptional, very rapid action that we have seen regarding the human vaccine, says Tarja Sironen, Assistant Professor of Threatening Infectious Diseases at the University of Helsinki, whose research team aims to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus in Finnish society. Of the fur animal species, the mink and Finnraccoon are susceptible to covid-19 infection. An effective vaccine must prevent the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on Finnish fur farms, says Jussi Peura, research director leading the corona contingency and vaccine project at FIFUR. "Experimental animal experiments and verifications related to vaccine development take time, but we are working on getting a working vaccine ready and distributed to producers as soon as possible," says Peura. "Finns have responded responsibly to the new coronavirus threat with their own actions, and fortunately vaccination on humans has already begun. We are now developing an animal vaccine with FIFUR's partner network to ensure the safety of fur breeding for many years to come, states FIFUR's CEO Marja Tiura. "Preliminary immunization results from fur animal experiments are now also promising. This project provides important research information about vaccines' effectiveness and protects the health of animals and people who take care of animals, says Professor Olli Vapalahti. The fight against corona continues in full force The fur breeders have successfully followed the strict guidelines for protection that have been drawn up together with the Finnish authorities since the spring and summer of 2020. The results of the Food Authority's mink test have been negative, and so far no Covid-19 infections in fur animals have been detected on Finnish fur farms. "We will continue to fight the corona with all our might in cooperation with the authorities. In Denmark, a hasty decision was made in the autumn to kill the country's minks and thus the base for the industry in Denmark. With the vaccine project, we are working responsibly to ensure the success of the Finnish industry now that the prices of fur have also shown signs of rising, Marja Tiura continues.

Sustainable fashion

LVMH Hits The 100% Target for Certified Mink, Fox and Finnraccoon Fur


Dec 09 2020 - French luxury conglomerate LVMH is using only 100 % certified mink, fox and finnraccoon pelts hitting the target set in it's Animal-based Raw Materials Sourcing Charter that regulates the sourcing of furs, leathers, exotic leathers, wool and feathers. "Using those materials only works if we respect some very strict requirements. We need to adopt the best animal welfare practices for our materials. Animal welfare is, of course, a topic that needs to be worked on with scientists. We want that to be scientifically-based," said Cathelijne Klomp, the Sourcing & Transparency Environmental Projects Manager at LVMH during the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference. Sustainable sourcing of natural materials is a major part of the sustainability efforts of the luxury giant, which includes fashion brands such as FENDI, Louis Vuitton and Dior. "Naturality is an inspiration for our artistic directors. There are also benefits in using these materials. From an environmental perspective, using animal-based materials instead of their alternatives can be positive in terms of the environmental impact and biodegradability of those materials," added Ms Klomp. LVMH described natural fur as a strategic material for the group alongside leather and exotic skins and the fashion group is increasingly focusing on responsible sourcing. In September 2019, the luxury group announced the new guidelines with the Charter promising to provide full traceability of animal-derived materials. To achieve this, LVMH is working only with suppliers that respect people, meet the highest animal welfare standards, and limit the environmental impact of their supply chains. When it comes to natural fur, the Charter envisages achieving 100% certified pelts and 100% traceability up to the farm in 2025. In 2019, in its annual Environmental report, LVMH referred to the certification programme WelFur as an example of a recognised European quality standard on fur that is being produced responsibly and sustainably. Yet animal welfare is only a part of the sustainability ambitions of the luxury conglomerate. "We want to adopt a holistic approach. When we talk about animal-based products, the first thing we think is animal welfare. But animal welfare is not our only priority when it comes to sourcing; we need to consider the environmental impact of those materials, the social impact, the conservation, the ethics behind it," concluded Ms Klomp.

Animal Welfare

European Commission bids on Science for New Animal Welfare Legislation


Dec 09 2020 - The European Commission wants to keep the new animal welfare laws up to date with the latest scientific knowledge, according to an EU official. This would require taking into account the most recent science when revising the current animal welfare legislative framework. "We don’t start from scratch – we have previous evaluations, we have previous knowledge, we know there are certain shortcomings to be addressed - there is a gap between legislation and recent science, and an inability to assume new science flexibly," said Christian Juliusson, DG SANTE during the online event on animal welfare organised by the Sustainable Fur Forum on 2 December. The revision of the animal welfare legislation is part of the Farm to Fork Strategy, which is the cornerstone of the Green Deal and the ambitions to make the continent climate neural by 2050. "The commitment is quite specific. There is indeed a need for a science-based approach, a need for new science. One objective is to align the legislation in the future with the latest knowledge," added Mr Juliusson. The process started in May this year with the so-called ‘'fitness check’' which will assess all existing law affecting animal keeping and breeding practices, transport and killing methods. The Commission hopes it would also be able to enforce stricter control over animal welfare breaches. "There is also the clear ambition to broaden the scope compared to what we have today and also make it easier to enforce [..] Certain species of animals lack a specific legislation for them," said Mr Juliusson. In September, the Commission threatened to take several Member states to court over violations of animal welfare of farm animals. ‘"Our task is to make sure the future legislation is enforceable to a larger extent than it is today. The ultimate goal is to ensure a high level of animal welfare." This, according to a representative of the European Reference Centre on the welfare of poultry, rabbits and small animals, could be accomplished if the legislation envisages the use of animal-based indicators in assessments. "The actual animal welfare legislation is exclusively based on resource-based measures when it should be using animal-based measures instead, which are more accurate," said prof. Prof. Steen Henrik Møller. The purpose of the EU reference centres for animal welfare is to gather existing scientific knowledge and contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. The scientific and technical expertise of the centres will be used to carrying out studies and developing methods for animal welfare assessment and improvement. As part of the revision of the animal welfare framework, the Commission is planning to launch an external study next year and to consult stakeholders through public consultation. It will also look into the impacts of the future animal welfare legislation on the agriculture, trade and environment.

Society

MEP: Mink case shows we need common ground for disease prevention in EU


Dec 09 2020 - MEP Asger Christensen (Renew) said the handling of mink during the current Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated very different approaches to disease prevention between European countries. This calls for increased European coordination in the future. "The pandemic has revealed that different countries have different approaches to the situation, both when we talk about the human side and animal productions. We should exchange knowledge and experience to establish a common ground for the handling of such situations in the future. However, I would like to emphasize that I am against any ban from the EU on the production of fur. This is solely a member state competence," he said. As a Danish dairy farmer with mink farming neighbours and -friends, he has even participated in the culling of Danish mink. The decision to cull all mink in Denmark was announced by the Danish government on the 4th of November and has remained widely questioned in the Danish debate ever since. MEP Asger Christensen is also critical towards the decision, which he describes as surprising and awful. "The situation and the decision-making process has received sharp criticism in Denmark. There has been a lack of second opinions and verification of the scientific foundation for the decisions made. Denmark is a small country, and we need outside perspectives. Too few people have been involved in the process. I think the government exaggerated the drama, for example when they said Northern Jutland could become the new Wuhan because of cluster-5," he said. There is, however, no turning back from the decision at this point. There will be no mink production in Denmark until at least 2022. Yet, there are good reasons to take away the learnings and put current experiences into future perspectives. At the moment an EC working paper on mink farming is underway, and Asger Christensen thinks it will point to increased international coordination. "I expect the report will point to a lack of common European coordination for this situation. We have a common strategy already in other areas like foot-and-mouth disease, where we have a precise manual for what we must do during outbreaks. We should have a better common ground to address such situations, rather than dealing with them from border to border," he said.

Sustainable Fur Forum

Science, not Fiction Must Shape Future Animal Welfare Law


Dec 04 2020 - A single EU animal welfare law needs to be based on science and define a uniform methodology when it comes to animal welfare. This was one of the conclusions of the second webinar of the Sustainable Fur Forum. The event hosted MEPs, scientists, industry experts and officials from the European Commission for a discussion on the new opportunities to improve animal welfare law in the light of the EU REFIT process. The event started with MEPs expressing support for farmers following the cull of mink in Denmark. "I am from Denmark, and I have seen how the mink production was closed within weeks. It has been very difficult to watch. It was very sad to see proud families close," said MEP Asger Christensen (Renew Europe Group, Denmark) in his keynote speech. "We simply need more research and good evidence before taking such more dramatic action," commented MEP Christensen on the decision of the Danish government to cull healthy animals. He highlighted the importance of having a harmonised approach to animal welfare for the European Parliament, giving as an example the creation of the special committee on the welfare of animals during transport, and the future Implementation report on on-farm animal welfare. "The cornerstone of the Farm to Fork Strategy is indeed animal welfare," said Mr Christian Juliusson from DG SANTE. He explained that the European Commission has until the end of 2023, to revise the animal welfare law to ensure the highest level of animal welfare. "The commitment is quite specific. That’s indeed the need for a science-based approach, for new science to align the legislation of the future with the latest knowledge," said Mr Juliusson. According to Prof. Steen Henrik Møller, representative of the European Reference Centre on the welfare of poultry, rabbits and small animals, this could be achieved if the legislation envisages the use of animal-based indicators in assessments. "The actual animal welfare legislation is exclusively based on resource-based measures when it should be using animal-based measures instead, which are more accurate. They allow to observe the animal directly to determine its wellbeing," added prof. Møller. One animal welfare assessment system which already adopted this approach is WelFur, a science-based certification programme for fur farms. "WelFur is the first programme to cover the whole European continent and now also beyond, with farms in North America. 98% of the fur farmers in Europe [2.926 farms] have accepted to be part of the Welfur process", explained Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO at Fur Europe. The on-farm implementation, handled by an independent third-party, ensures its reliability. "Animal welfare will always be our first priority. The farmers’ main interest is taking good care of the animals", she added. She encouraged the Commission and Reference Centre to look at WelFur as an inspiration for a harmonised and comprehensive animal welfare assessment methodology. Given the Welfur experience, Mette Lykke Nielsen advocated for a single EU animal welfare law, which would allow to clarify the obligations and duties of all actors involved, define a uniform methodology, and encourage the Member States to provide harmonised training. This would also make it possible to collect comparable data, share best practices and benchmark progress. MEP Juozas Olekas (S&D, Lithuania), Chair of the SFF, concluded that the debate on animal welfare should always be based on scientific evidence, and involve a comprehensive dialogue between policymakers and the actors on the ground. The next SFF event will be held during the first 2021 quarter.

Society

Denmark put precaution before proportionality in national scandal


Dec 04 2020 - A new book throws more light on the closing of Danish mink farming, that happened in a process now coined the biggest democratic scandal in modern Danish history. Author and public health policy expert Kjeld Møller Pedersen’s book concludes that the Danish public health policies enforced as a result of the corona crisis have followed an overly cautious approach, in which rule of law, expert advice and socio-economics have receded into the background. Amongst other policy examples, the most shining one is ‘minkgate’. "The government was under a lot of pressure - it is only fair to mention. But instead of pursuing the principle of proportionality, where the least intrusive measures are taken in relation to the purpose, the government has consistently pushed the precautionary principle in front of it and applied an argument that actions should be taken here and now. This is undoubtedly related to the fact that with the coronavirus we have been confronted with something unknown and dangerous. Maybe the politicians were struck with a bit of anxiety and panic, and in these situations, they have listened less to the professionals who are used to dealing these things," Kjeld Møller Pedersen, who is a professor at the Southern University Of Denmark, said. According to experts from Danish Veterinary Consortium, veterinary professionals and organisations were not consulted in line with the Danish and European tradition of bringing together relevant parties when trying to limit infection. The holistic approach is also called One Health, an approach also promoted by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in their recent risk assessments of the mink situation. Veterinary Virology PhD and former Deputy Chief in ECDC, Per Have, points out that the central arguments for eliminating the entire mink industry – the risk for reduced vaccine effects and the speed of new mutations in mink – have proved too weak to justify the decision. "The biggest problem is that you have made a big decision without proportionality on the wrong basis," he said. Also, Kjeld Møller Pedersen points to the proposed vaccine reduced vaccine effect of the so-called cluster 5 mutation as a problematic argument for the cull. When the genome sequencing data was finally released by Danish authorities, experts in and outside Denmark quickly labelled the fear of reduced vaccine effect as exaggerated. "It all had to go so fast that there was no documentation of the effect of the measures initiated, which is part of the precautionary principle. But to say it in a diplomatic way, it can certainly be said that healthcare documentation of the closing (of the mink industry) has been incomplete. Instead, you have followed an overly cautious approach," Kjeld Møller Pedersen said.

Society

Mink is threat to COVID vaccine? Not so sure


Nov 19 2020 - Scientists are raising serious doubt over the risk assessment of Statens Serum Institute (SSI) that mink-related mutation of the coronavirus could pose a threat to a future vaccine. While the Danish government decided to cull the entire mink population, including healthy herds based on the risk assessment, researchers ponder if there is enough scientific evidence to back its conclusions. The Danish Medicines Agency announced it was not consulted before the government took its decision adding that it is "unlikely" that the mutation will have a "significant impact on the effect of the first generation of vaccines." SSI claims that the mutation found the so-called cluster-5 could, in theory, weaken efforts for a new vaccine due to a change in the spike (S) protein, which is a key target for vaccines. "There is nothing in the report that gives reason to conclude that this particular mutation may constitute a danger to a vaccine. Therefore, one cannot conclude too strongly on the significance of the cluster-5 mutation for a vaccine," said Professor Jens Lundgren, emphasising that these are only preliminary results. The Danish institute only released more details about the research late in the process, which made the international scientific community call for it to be reviewed. Some are openly questioning the validity of the claim that mink-related mutation is a hazard for the vaccine. According to Dr Anthony Fauci, United States' top infectious disease official, the issue should be taken seriously but "it doesn't look like something that's going to be a really big problem for the vaccines that are currently being used to induce an immune response". "When you look at the binding sites on the spike protein … it does not appear at this point that the mutation that has been identified in the minks is going to have an impact on vaccines and the effect of a vaccine-induced immune response," he said in a discussion broadcast by the Chatham House think-tank. In order to be a threat to the future vaccine, the new strain of the virus associated with mink farms needs to be more contagious than the current coronavirus. The Statens Serum Institute announced this is not the case. Moreover, once developed vaccines could relatively easy be modified, say scientists, to protect against several strains of the virus. "The vaccines that are under development do not only attack the small part that is mutated in mink variants. The good vaccines will make our immune system respond to many different parts of the virus, said the immunologist Mike Barnbob. The World Health Organisation also states that mutations in viruses are normal, and jumping to conclusions without further research is risky. Asked to comment on the decision of the Danish government, WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris clarified that they don't think the culling was a necessary measure. She also reminded that the primary source of contamination remains human-to-human transition, and mutations need to be monitored. The European Disease and Control centre advised to increased testing amongst fur farmers, workers and animals. Both WHO and ECDC underlined that all findings are preliminary and further investigations are needed to assess the situation. The European Commission has reached out to vaccine manufacturers to evaluate the risk as some producers already confirmed that they would be able to cover Cluster-5 mutation with the vaccines.

Society

Mink farming temporarily on halt in Denmark – but was it necessary?


Nov 18 2020 - In a scandalous turn of events, the Danish government temporarily put an end to mink farming due to concerns over public health. In the process, the order to cull the entire Danish mink herd including healthy animals was recognized as unconstitutional, a circumstance that continues to be met with massive criticism from the opposition, commentators and constitutional experts in Denmark. When the government announced the cull of all mink in Denmark on 4 November, it stressed the reason to be brand new lab tests demonstrating a potential reduced vaccine effect, due to the so-called cluster-5 mutation that amongst other can develop on a mink farm. Shortly after however, international scientists scrutinized the Danish lab test, only to return with the verdict that the Danish risk assessment on global vaccine effects was highly under-researched. Under-informed decision? Roughly speaking, the decision has divided Danish public opinion in two: those who in line with the government believe the decision to cull all animals was the right thing to do as a precautionary principle, and those who in line with the opposition parties believe the decision was scientifically under-informed and could have been handled without crumbling the Danish mink industry by eliminating all breeder animals. In particular, the government has been criticized for relying on too narrow scientific advice, leaving behind the Danish tradition of a broad collaboration between involved stakeholders– also coined The Danish Model. The Danish Veterinary Society, for example, stated that “the special insight veterinarians could have contributed to create clarification about possibilities and limitations of diagnostics in animal herds, as well as the handling of internal and external disease transmission.” The veterinary position in Denmark is that too little focus has been put on preventing infections in mink farms in the first place. Instead, the Danish mink strategy spiralled out of control, working against the government’s own commitment to save the mink industry in Denmark. Minister of Agriculture steps down Meanwhile, the illegal order to cull healthy mink will stand until mid-December. Since all Danish opposition parties refuse to provide 3/4 of the parliamentary vote needed to make the culling order constitutional, only the normal, more time consuming, the democratic process will work to make the order legal for the government. In practical terms, the delayed legislation makes no difference: The Danish mink farmers have loyally culled their mink in spite of the unconstitutional order given to them by the government. Until now the scandalous handling of ‘minkgate’ has led to the departure of the Danish agricultural minister on 18 November, but the government’s refusal to withdraw the illegal culling order rightfully raises questions over the state of democracy in Denmark. The last consequence may not have been seen yet in what commentators and politicians have coined the biggest democratic scandal in Danish history. The ban on mink farming in Denmark is temporary, and the law proposal in making works with an option for mink farmers to return to business, when the global pandemic is under control. The full potential of Danish mink farming is, however, unlikely to recover given the uncertain circumstances. To date, 284 mink farms have been infected in Denmark. They have all been culled.

Society

No International Recommendations to Cull Healthy Mink Herds


Nov 16 2020 - International scientific bodies recommend increased biosecurity and monitoring of mink farms in the wake of Denmark’s controversial decision to cull all mink in the country. But neither the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) nor the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) advises to follow the Danish example and cull healthy mink. In a rapid risk assessment published 12 November, ECDC makes a call for increased biosecurity and monitoring of mink farms with regular testing of animals and people but said national authorities should consider culling mink from infected farms and destroying raw pelts in accordance with appropriate biosecurity measures. ECDC also concludes that "the overall level of risk to human health posed by SARS-CoV-2 mink related variants is low for the general population and no different than other SARS-CoV-2 variants." Global veterinary body OIE follows the same track in their publication of 16 November and suggests the introduction of farm biosecurity plans, that set out to prevent the transfer of disease. Farm biosecurity plans should address animal and manure movement, movement of people, safe handling of containers, and other associated materials that could serve as fomites. Detailed plans for increased monitoring, disposal of dead animals, and cleaning and disinfection should also be addressed together with protection equipment for employees. Fur Europe cooperates with ECDC on the ongoing risk assessment. CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen said international coordination of the mink issue is relevant because Covid-19 is an international pandemic. "Both OIE and ECDC stress the need for more research and knowledge, and we support the decision to get more scientific knowledge into this debate. Mink farms are only problematic to the extent they become infected in the first place. There is no scientific foundation to cull healthy animals," she said.

Sustainable Fur Forum

Fur Farming & Animal Welfare Policies: Farm to Fork Strategy Opportunities


Nov 15 2020 - As Farm to Fork strategy comes into action, animal welfare legislation becomes the next focal topic on the EU agenda. The next online event of the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF) chained by MEP Juozas Olekas will take place on December 2 to discuss the opportunities of the Farm to Fork strategy for fur farming and animal welfare policies. The Farm to Fork Strategy adopted by the European Commission last May encompasses the upcoming revision of the existing animal welfare legislation. The push to improve and the current animal welfare laws and regulations comes into the spotlight of the EU debate as the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council are trying to find a solution that works for everyone. When it comes to consumers, communication and education are crucial for getting citizens involved in the debate. That’s why animal welfare labelling systems based on science and third-party assessments such as WelFur programme could enhance transparency and understanding about the production. What is way forward for animal welfare policies? How to ensure the wellbeing of all farmed animals across the Continent? Could the EU adopt a single, comprehensive EU Animal Welfare Framework Law? During this meeting taking place from 1 to 2:30 pm, we will seek to engage discussion on the inputs the fur sector could bring to the talks about the future of animal welfare policies, as well as the need to develop legislation in the field. We will have the chance to welcome on the online stage MEP Juozas Olekas (chair of the SFF), MEP Asger Christensen as well as Pr. Steen Henrik Møller (EURCAW poultry, rabbits, small animals), and Christian Juliusson, (DG SANTE G.5 Unit, Animal welfare, European Commission). Registrations are open until the 1st of December via this link. The connection details will be sent over to participants prior to the meeting. For further information, please contact: melanie@sustainablefur.eu cynthia@sustainablefur.eu rodolphe@sustainablefur.eu  

Animal Welfare

WelFur Extends To Finnraccoon


Nov 04 2020 - Another breakthrough in on-farm animal welfare certification as the new WelFur protocol for Finnraccoon is rolling out. The development of a fully functional on-farm assessment means that Finnraccoon farms are certified the same way as mink and fox farms. ”Finnraccoon farmers now have the same system as mink and fox farmers already have. A lot of species-specific practices for animal welfare has been developed. Finnraccoons are extremely well domesticated and feel well in a farming environment. Now we can measure the animal welfare on my farm, and follow if we can improve it every year,” said farmer Esa Rantakangas from Lappajärvi. Scientists behind the protocol spent several years to go through all existing research before they were able to develop species-specific animal welfare assessment. In 2019, the pilot phase started bringing the theoretical knowledge on the field to refine the calculations and the scoring system. The scientific validity of the protocols and the compliance with the methodology and principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality protocols were confirmed by the review committee, which was the final step in the development. The protocol works as a manual for the independent third-party assessors who assess fur farms. Built to evaluate and qualify animal welfare, the protocols take into an account complex calculation predominately based animal-based indicators which scientists consider as the most reliable way to measure animal welfare. Finnraccoon, also known as a raccoon dog, is farmed in Finland, and the production counted for 160.000 pelts in 2019.

Society

Political Support to Steer Mink Farming Through Corona Crisis


Oct 29 2020 - Mink farmers in Denmark and The Netherlands have been hard hit by the global pandemic as mink have proven susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and more than 200 mink farms in the two countries have been infected. While the Netherlands decided to compensate mink farmers, and accelerate an already existing decision to ban mink farming, there is broad political support in Denmark to help the industry through the crisis. In a meeting in the Environment and Food Committee 28 October, the Danish Minister for Environment and Food, Mogens Jensen, (the Social Democratic Party) said public health is of highest priority, but that does not mean the government are planning to close the mink production. On the contrary, the minister announced his willingness to work out forward-looking solutions in cooperation with the mink farmers, as well as other political parties. "There would be many industries we would have to close down in order to be sure there is no spread of the virus in society. The government has no plans to close mink farming," the minister said. A total of 166 mink farms have been infected by the coronavirus in Denmark since June. In late September the authorities changed their original isolation strategy to a culling strategy and decided to cull healthy farms within 7,8 kilometres of infected farms as a precautionary measure. This has led to massive criticism from both opposition parties and veterinary experts and coupled with the increasing number of infected farms. The culling strategy further led to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration not having enough manpower to cull all the animals targeted by the strategy - perhaps as many as 6 million mink. Meanwhile, some of the infected mink farms have achieved herd immunity and developed antibodies. Danish research has revealed the virus no longer live on in the mink farm environment after 5-6 weeks, and the Danish mink farmers want to avoid culling healthy animals. Fur Europe Chairman John Papsø welcomed the government support to mink farming but said the short-term culling of healthy animals is inefficient and expensive. "It is a waste of resources to cull healthy animals, which are otherwise ready to be pelted and sold in 1-2 weeks. Public health must be the priority, but we all have to remember that Covid-19 is a global pandemic upheld by the human-to-human transmission of the virus," John Papsø said. Outside the mink farmer community, only four people in Danish society have been infected by a covid-19 strain from a mink farm. Looking into the next production season, John Papsø said solutions for mink farmers are likely to involve increased biosecurity and monitoring. Sweden, Italy and Spain have each had a mink farm infected by coronavirus as well.

Sustainable fashion

The Young and the Super Rich are Mainstreaming Slow Fashion


Oct 29 2020 - Everybody has clothes they wear more than others for any number of reasons. Those reasons, however, are the key to a greener environment, because if consumers wear the clothes in circulation more often, it comes at the expense of resource-intensive production of new clothes, often most made from cheap, unsustainable materials. In the slow fashion, paradigm clothes have more value for consumers, who in turn tend to care more for the products. The global consumption of fast fashion is in no way in decline at current. On the other hand, changes are clearly underway, and it can be observed in the emergence of new circular startups, public debate, media, and a mountain of upcoming legislative frameworks addressing climate change and environment across the world. It can also be observed in today’s consumer behaviour: "Vintage, secondhand is massive. There is almost a new 'arts and crafts' movement taking place. People dig up the clothes of their grandmother to wear it. There is a search for something tactile, a connection with the things people own. It is not because the interest in textiles and garments is decreasing, but we want a deeper connection to the clothes we wear. That is a paradigm shift because you don’t have a deep connection with you clothes if you swap your wardrobe every six months," Johanne Stenstrup, Danish author, podcast host and sustainable fashion activist, said. At the tipping point of mainstream During her presentation at the Sustainable Fur Forum’s event on 29 September, she talked about the emergence of circular business models and the fast-growing secondhand market. All things that point to a market, however not yet a mainstream market. So how far are we from the tipping point? "I’ll say we are just short of 10 per cent. Within trend research, they say that when 12-15 per cent of a population do something, it tips over and becomes mainstream. That’s the tipping point between being a first-mover trend to becoming mainstream. I’ll say slow fashion is very close to becoming mainstream," Johanne Stenstrup said. Part of the paradigm shift is driven by the climate striking youth, who opposes the way their parents have been buying clothes. The other key driver of sustainable fashion is the super-rich, who drive a real demand for traceability, clean raw materials, and sustainability, which is also visible in the hotel- and restaurant sectors. The greenest eco-hotels around are the luxury hotels. The most successful high-end restaurants are those who offer slow food concepts like farm-to-table, fermentation, and locally sourced ingredients. Likewise - although still lacking behind the development in the hotel- and restaurant businesses - it is the high-end luxury fashion brands who have been first to invest in sustainability within the fashion industry. "There is, of course, still demography which is in the market for bling and gold, but there is a real push for sustainability and traceability amongst the superrich. If you can buy anything in the world, you want to be sure things are in order," Johanne Stenstrup said. Re-establishing our connection with clothes The emotional value of our clothes is tied with storytelling that was somehow lost during the industrialization. The availability of cheap materials and the efficiency of the production had the consequence that repairment of our clothing slowly, but surely was replaced by the unsustainable ‘buy and throw away’ culture of today. "Capitalism and industrialization have worked to eliminate our connection to our clothing and identity since consumers have been told identity lies in the buying of something new. Now we are beginning to re-establish the connection with the textiles we surround ourselves with. Clothes with emotional value work as an anchor to who we are and are often found in homemade clothes or clothes people have owned for a long time. Our clothing is closely associated with storytelling about ourselves and our identity," Johanne Stenstrup said. However, the slow fashion paradigm is not only in the hands of trendsetting consumer groups but must be established in the interaction between consumers, manufacturers and legislators. Waste management is already high up on the political agenda, and if waste begins to come at a cost for the producers, waste management legislation is likely to push manufacturers further towards circular business models. "Companies have to look at their products more like a service. This can be a built-in repairment guarantee, or rental models, which I think is very interesting for fur- and leather products. It is business models, where you make an income on the same product several times, or provide services to the product throughout its lifetime," Johanne Stenstrup said. Circular business models Natural fur has inherent circular qualities because of the material’s strong technical characteristics, and capability for biodegradation. These are qualities the fur sector can work actively with and potentially target new consumer groups. "Fur fits well into the circular economy, but some people have a problem with the animals. It fits with circularity to take responsibility for the second and third life of a product. Some consumers skip the first life of a product and go straight to buying upcycled clothing. This is a consumer group I think will grow bigger. They still want good design, and we can tell that new design with old materials is very much in demand right now," Johanne Stenstrup said.

Sustainability

Future Green Label Needs to Tackle Plastic Pollution


Oct 28 2020 - Under its current form, the Environmental Footprint initiative fails to fully address one of the crucial points of the environmental impact of products - plastic pollution. The negative effect of plastic pollution on humans, animals and ecosystems is not included in the PEF calculations and will not be communicated to the consumer, fear stakeholders engaging in the initiative. The European Environmental Bureau raised the issue back in 2018, after the end of the pilot phase. Currently, to measure the environmental footprint of a product from the raw material to the end-of-life, the PEF method is testing it against 16 impact categories ranging from climate change to the use of natural resources or toxicity. No category looks into whether the product causes plastic leakage. The Product Environmental Footprint initiative will pave the way for EU-wide legislation on the environmental performance of goods and organisations. The PEF profiles should enable companies to make legitimate environmental claims based upon evidence. But boiling down complex, multi-dimensional calculations to a single score that might be put on a label could turn out misleading. For example, if an essential pollutive feature of a product like plastic pollution is not considered, the information reaching the consumer will not provide a complete picture of the environmental cost of the product. Such oversimplification risks leaving consumers under the false impression that they are choosing the 'better-for-the-environment' product without knowing that some environmental impacts they care about are not considered. Failing to address the problem with plastics pollution in its major environmental initiative would undercut the Commission’s own efforts to tackle plastic waste as promised in the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Green Deal. Measuring plastics' environmental impact is typically not part of LCA assessments, because it remains challenging to track, measure and quantify the adverse effect of plastic leakage across supply chains. This means it is unlikely that plastic pollution would become an impact category before the legislation arrives. Yet, there is a solution. Plastic pollution can be included in the PEF studies under the so-called additional environmental information. Building on this information, law-makers could request that the plastic pollution risk be stated explicitly on the label alongside the PEF score. More than 5.5 million tons of synthetic microfibers have ended up in the environment since 1950 because of clothes being washed in machines, estimates researchers from Sciences et Avenir. Microplastics are found in ecosystems everywhere on the planet, and even in products for human consumption such as beer, honey and salt. Many see the involvement of consumers to be the key in the fight for a cleaner, resource-efficient, circular economy. But serving over-simplified information to consumers led by the desire to make it easy to choose the greener products carry a risk of leading to further confusion amongst consumers – a problem meant to be tackled by this environmental initiative in the first place.

Sustainable fashion

Nobody Cared About Clothing’s Lifetime. That is About to Change


Oct 06 2020 - How and why clothing is used is important to Ingun Grimstad Klepp. She is a research professor at Consumption Research of Norway (SIFO), and how clothing is used and interpreted by consumers is critical to its lifetime, which in turn is important to the environment. "I work to make lifetime more important. Nothing is better for improving environmental sustainability than a long lifetime. It makes a big difference. I think fur is an area where lifetime is crucial because the production itself has an impact, which relates to both environment and animal welfare. The longer time fur or other products stay in use, the easier it is to defend it," Ingun Klepp said. But while clothing life time currently is considered the most effective way to improve sustainability in clothing, it has been disturbingly absent from fashion’s sustainability debate, a debate that traditionally has had its focus on the production, while leaving the user-phase unexplored. Benchmarking tools favouring synthetics This limited way of assessing sustainability in clothing seems to be changing though, not least because both fashion sustainability experts and -NGOs with increasing success have put the fashion industry and its sustainability problems on the agenda over the past few years. Ingun Klepp is a part of this agenda-setting movement. In her research, she has targeted the blindside of the ‘Higg Materials Sustainability Index’ and ‘Made-by Environmental Benchmark for Fibres’, two widely used benchmarking tools for comparing the environmental impact of different fibres. Both tools, however, work without including the user-phase. Effectively this ends up favouring synthetic materials over natural materials, which have higher environmental costs at the material production stage. However, comparing the environmental impact of textile fibres while leaving out the user-phase amounts to comparing apples and oranges. It also fails to consider the significant environmental damage synthetic materials cause through microplastic pollution. Companies who produce fast fashion may not have an interest in including such measures in the various benchmarking tools for sustainability. Still, a part of the problem is also that the knowledge on both the user-phase of clothing and the extent and consequences of microplastic pollution is relatively low. "There are many things we know and many things we don’t know yet. The first thing that happens is companies say ‘we don’t know anything about the user-phase’. Then we must show it’s possible to include the user-phase. It is a necessary debate," Ingun Klepp said. Different material, different user-phases So Ingun Klepp has conducted research that demonstrates it is possible to distinguish environmental impacts of different materials in the user-phase because clothes made of diverse fibres are maintained differently. For example, wool requires less energy and chemicals to be kept clean, compared to cotton. Cotton requires a more powerful wash, and often also uses energy for drying and wrinkle removal. Synthetic fabrics become dirty faster and are washed more frequently, which further speed up the release of microplastics. According to Ingun Klepp, Sustainable Apparel Coalition now works to incorporate the user-phase in their benchmarking tools. Up until now, clothing has not been the focus of the same political attention, for example, single-use products and –packaging, which however utilise the same non-renewable textiles as much fashion clothing. In other words, the clock is ticking on the fashion industry too. "EU and Norway are preparing waste management policies, but the world market for used textiles is decreasing, and just now it is about stagnant. This means waste must be handled locally, and waste reduction comes higher up on the agenda. Extended producer liability is already in the making around os. When producers are required to take responsibility for waste, lifetime becomes important," Ingun Klepp said. Her own research is, however, more focused on what happens with the clothes we buy - how is it actually used? Long clothing lifetime has little value to the environment if the clothes are not used as an alternative to buying new. Long lifetime could, for example, imply long periods of storage, which would often be the case for natural fur coats as they are typical winter garments. It is important to establish the relationship between actual use and lifetime because it is needed to establish the so-called functional units, which are used in LCAs and make comparisons possible and meaningful. Show me your wardrobe ... How, and how much, clothing is actually used can be determined with the so-called wardrobe studies, a relatively new and still emerging research field, which through qualitative consumer interviews works to establish the pattern behind the - often unconscious – clothing choices people make every day. Understanding the user-phase of fur would also be relevant for the fur sector. It is particularly interesting because natural fur has the technical properties for a long lifetime, but the question is what happens to the fur throughout all this time? Ingun Klepp points out. She and other experts have been commissioned by the international wool industry to research the user-phase of wool garments on big consumer markets like China and Germany. "It is evident that user-phase is important to the wool industry. This can be used politically, and we have worked to demonstrate the user-phase for wool," Ingun Klepp said. Amongst other things this work has clarified, there are differences in the maintenance of different materials, which are important for the ultimate environmental impact of clothing. Equally important, understanding user-phase is an important part of improving your environmental footprint. "It is important to bring in a lifetime to LCA work because it can help to both improve and develop an industry," Ingun Klepp says. She stresses that when working with the environmental impact of an industry, it is important to assess the production across the entire value chain. Only the user-phase does still not have the position in environmental assessments it deserves, to provide a comprehensive and fact-based discussion over sustainability in clothing: Everything has a price, and we must be willing to discuss that price. I am for example of the opinion that we would have been better off if a global product like jeans were produced in half the numbers, but lasted twice as long", Ingun Klepp said. Photo credit: Sonja Balci / OsloMet

Sustainable Fur Forum

Fur Debate: Circularity at the Center of Fur Production


Sep 29 2020 - The fur industry is a good example of circular production and should be an inspiration for the fashion world. That was one of the conclusions from the participants in the first Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF) webinar on 29 September. During the online event, four different speakers, including two MEPs and a sustainable fashion campaigner, discussed why circularity is an integral part of, and a priority for the fur sector. The outburst of Covid-19 exposed the flaws in the fast fashion system. When the shops started to close, clothing began piling up in warehouses, demonstrating the unsustainability of the model. During the lockdown, we lost two seasons, 30 drops and 210 days of fashion, said Johanne Stenstrup, author, entrepreneur and sustainable fashion campaigner. Consumers’ attitude towards their dressing changed, as they had time to reconnect with their clothes. "The future of fashion should be about our relationship with our clothes, the craftsmanship, the materials, and the people behind the production," she added.  MEP Juozas Olekas (S&D, Lithuania), Chair of the SFF, pointed out that "fast fashion based on ‘produce-consume-dispose’ has to be replaced by a slow fashion model with a longterm vision for people and the environment." This transition needs the involvement of all actors, with a 360-degree approach. "If the European Union wants to be a global leader in achieving climate goals, fashion is certainly a good starting point," said Mr Olekas. The European Green Deal and Circular Economy Action plan (CEAP) are a historic opportunity for the European fashion sector to improve its performance and contribute to a green transition. The EU needs an ambitious and comprehensive Textile Strategy encompassing all fashion products, based on the hierarchy 'eco-design, reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, dispose of'. In this regard, the fur sector can be an inspiration for the fashion world. It is the perfect example of a circular production system with upcycling taking place throughout the value chain. Fur is a natural, biodegradable, long-lasting and reusable material. With proper care, fur garments can last for several decades. Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO at Fur Europe, insisted on three essential elements that should be included in the EU Textile Strategy: boosting the reuse of garments, the traceability of supply chains and developing eco-design measures. Finally, MEP Pietro Fiocchi concluded that the fur sector should be treated equally as all the other livestock sectors because it is subject to the same European regulations. This will be further discussed during the next SFF webinar, which will address the future of animal welfare in the EU. For further information about the Sustainable Fur Forum, please contact: melanie@sustainablefur.eu cynthia@sustainablefur.eu rodolphe@sustainablefur.eu

Sustainability

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.

Society

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.

Society

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: melanie@sustainablefur.eu cynthia@sustainablefur.eu rodolphe@sustainablefur.eu

Sustainable fashion

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.

Animal Welfare

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.

Sustainable fashion

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.

Society

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

Society

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.

Sustainable fashion

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

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.

Animal Welfare

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).

Social

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.

Business

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.

Animal Welfare

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.

Society

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.

Sustainability

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.

Sustainability

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.

Animal Welfare

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.  

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.

Sustainable fashion

‘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.

Animal Welfare

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 info@fureurope.eu 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.

Animal Welfare

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

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.

Animal Welfare

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."

Animal Welfare

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  

Sustainability

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.

Sustainability

‘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)

Sustainability

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).

Sustainable fashion

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.

Sustainable fashion

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.

Sustainability

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.

Animal Welfare

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.

Animal Welfare

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.

Sustainability

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."

Animal Welfare

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.

Sustainable fashion

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."

Sustainability

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.

Sustainability

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 info@fureurope.eu 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.

Animal Welfare

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.

Sustainable fashion

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.

Sustainability

Remodelling your own wardrobe is now a thing


May 10 2019 - Consumers are more interested than ever in sustainable fashion and remodelling, says fashion designer Sia Rosenberg. "I think people feel we have somehow lost our connection with nature, and many of them are trying to reconnect through awareness about the use of natural materials, redesign and upcycling." Rosenberg organises redesign workshops at MAD Brussels, a publicly funded creative hub dedicated to promoting creative companies in the Belgian capital.  At these workshops, people learn how to transform and renew their old wardrobe together with basic sewing lessons. "During the first workshop it got a little crowded, so I need to have a maximum of five people for a session. Consumers are really trying to change their behaviour; to reuse and reduce - men and women, people from all ages are coming." The workshops will continue in her new atelier in Brussels from July. Sia Rosenberg will join forces with a tailor and merge sewing and redesign courses to engage with more people. The desire to adopt more sustainable fashion habits is not only limited to remodelling and redesign. An increasing number of people are getting into the use of natural materials and better quality, she says reflects. "All these reports about microplastics are shocking people, and they want to opt for natural, renewable materials that don't pile up on landfill or shed plastics into oceans." The Brussels-based designer mainly works with leather, wool, silk and linen but she is also drawn to fur for its remodelling abilities and long lifespan. Her interest in the materials started when she was a design student and worked on a project in which students were provided with old furs for remodelling. To Sia Rosenberg that was the beginning of her affection for seal skins sourced from Greenland. "You can really do anything – you can even play directly with the direction of the hair," says she while pointing at one of her favourite designs – a corset blazer made of wool and seal. "The magic here was to use a mixture of baking powder and water to soften the skin and then create this shape. Once it dries, it keeps the form, and you get these beautiful curves that match a women's body."

Sustainability

Fur Summer School is Back – APPLY NOW


Apr 16 2019 - Fur Europe's flagship youth project, the Fur Summer School,  returns once again to take 26 young people on a journey across the fur value chain and enable them to understand how fur fits with slow fashion and sustainability. Entitled “From Waste to Gold,” each year the summer school takes place in Kastoria and Siatista in Greece, at the very heart of the oldest fur hub in Europe. It brings together young people with various backgrounds keen to explore fur from multiple angles such as craft, sustainability, design, business models, ethics, marketing and communication. Combining both theoretical and practical exercises with visits to fur-related facilities, the Fur Summer School enables young people to foster entrepreneurship skills and connects with established fur business. No better place to start this journey than a region with a 1400-year history in fur. Kastoria and Siatista are home to thousands of skilled fur practitioners and manufacturers who continuously reinvent the ways to use fur in fashion. However, the region is not solely about manufacturing. Farmers in the nearby farms take care of the animals day today, while dressers and dyers make sure pelts are processed sustainably and with care of the environment. A bio-plant turns the waste from farms into electricity and other resources so that nothing is ever wasted. This way the loop of production closes to form the perfect circular economy, which is the engine of the region. This behind-the-scenes experience allows young people to learn about fur from farm to fashion. The Fur Summer school will take place between 23 August - 1 September. Participants don't need any experience with fur. The only requirement is a deep interest in the topic of fur and sustainability and a desire to learn. Find out all the details about the application process here.

Animal Welfare

European Commission to establish centre for fur animal welfare


Apr 16 2019 - Despite massive protests from the animal lobby the European Commission have confirmed the establishing of a new EU supported animal welfare centre focusing on fur animals. International animal lobby NGO Four Paws has called the Commission’s plan “an unprecedented scandal”, but in spite of the massive protests, the Commission has now launched the call for European universities, who in cooperation will form the so-called EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare. The centre will start in January 2020, and its focus is fur farmed species in addition to poultry and rabbits. “It’s beyond my understanding how animal welfare NGOs can be against more animal welfare research, but I applaud the Commission for siding with science, not populistic opinion, in this matter,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. In January, the European Commission added the fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur to the European Commission’s Self-Regulation Database. It is the first time ever an animal welfare programme has been added to this database, and it means the animal welfare programme has been scrutinised by the European Commission’s experts and found credible and robust enough for legislation purposes. The Brussels-based umbrella organisation Eurogroup for Animals who organises the protests against Commissioner Andriukaitis, encourages European Parliament election candidates to “oppose initiatives which provide EU endorsement to the fur industry”, but the animal lobby’s current focus on fur does not worry Mette Lykke Nielsen: “It is exactly because of many years’ pressure from the surrounding society the European fur sector is way ahead on animal welfare. We welcome the decision of the European Commission to include fur animals in the next EU hub for animal welfare expertise in Europe. It stresses that EU holds fur farming in high regard because we are working professionally with animal welfare, and we are demonstrating this with the ongoing implementation of our science-based animal welfare programme WelFur. The animal lobby has worked intensively to prevent fur from being included in the reference centre. It appears to me that by doing this they reveal their intentions are guided by ideology rather than a genuine wish to improve animal welfare,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. The purpose of the EU reference centres for animal welfare is to gather existing scientific knowledge and contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. The scientific and technical expertise of the centres are to be used to carrying out studies and developing methods for animal welfare assessment and –improvement.

Sustainable fashion

Hunters and furriers team up to make sustainable fashion


Feb 28 2019 - Design students from Viennese fashion school Sieben-Eichengasse have again competed in the Red Fox Austria Award competition last weekend and demonstrated how nature conservation and fashion design can go hand in hand towards sustainability. Besides the design student award, there is also an award for professional furriers. True to tradition winning designs were announced at the Hohe Jagd & Fischerei fair in Salzburg last weekend, an international event hosting more than 45.000 guests.Responsibility’. The Red Fox Austria Award was initiated in 2007, in order to demonstrate to the larger public what creative possibilities there are for the use of the Austrian red fox. Every year 50.000-60.000 red foxes are shot in Austria for conservation purposes. Some 8.000 foxes are pelted and utilised by national furriers – and some again are used in the annual Red Fox Award. “Fur is a natural, biodegradable material, and when you combine that with quality craftsmanship and interesting design, you have a product consumers care about and appreciate for a long time. We give value to waste, and the Red Fox Award works to make people aware of the sustainability qualities of fur,” says Otmar Sladky, President of the Austrian furriers’ guild says. Hunting is popular, but strictly regulated practice in Austria. Only licensed hunters are allowed to shoot foxes, yet the practice is supported by 75 per cent of the Austrians. Utilising the pelts for long-lasting garments adds an additional sustainability aspect to the fox hunting, and for the design students it is furthermore often their first opportunity to work with fur: “Fur is normally out of reach for students because it is too costly to experiment with, but here we have an otherwise unlikely group of hunters, furriers and students teaming up to create a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. It is very inspirational for everybody who is involved,” says Otmar Sladky. In addition to the national competition, the students are also given the opportunity to submit their creations for the international fashion design competition REMIX. Very appropriate to the Austrian award, the theme of this year’s REMIX competition was ‘Responsibility’.

Design, Sustainable fashion

FORMER SUMMER SCHOOL PARTICIPANT WINS REMIX GOLD AWARD


Feb 25 2019 - The 2017 Fur Summer School student Berivan Cemal won the most prestigious REMIX award for young fashion and fur design. The creative interpretation of this year’s theme Responsibility granted Berivan the support of the jury chaired by the Deputy Director of Vogue Italy and Head of Vogue Talents Sara Maino at the award ceremony in Milan last night. "Remix is an opportunity for the next generation of designers to experiment with and at the same time to pay attention to sustainability and work for a better future,’’ said Sara Sozzani Maino. The 27-year-old designer from the Netherlands started working with fur a few years ago after collaborating with FurLab Amsterdam. Later Berivan then took part in Fur Europe’s Summer School to study the supply chain and explore how fur fits with slow fashion and sustainability. ‘’My Remix collection is an investigation into my own immigrant background and the deep personal responsibility I feel to translate my heritage for generations to come through my designs and use of fur,’ said Berivan while describing the idea behind her mink blankets and avant-garde garments. The added that for her responsibility in fashion is mainly linked to sustainable production and minimising environmental impact. ‘’Beyond the fact, the mink is treated very well in Holland, mink is one of the few animals which are used in many industries, not only fashion – bones and oils are used to the fullest helping create bioenergy and beauty products, which also means waste is minimised. Besides using the seal and mink, I am also incorporating recycled wool and plastic as a symbol to preserve fashion and reject plastic fast fashion.'' Besides the recognition as a world-class young designer, Berivan gets a weeklong stay at Kopenhagen Furs design studio where she gets a new challenge – to turn 25 premium quality Kopenhagen Fur Mink skins into the most innovative fur design possible. The Silver REMIX award went to Huseyin Ozer, from Turkey, for creations were inspired by the stained-glass window of the Hagia Sophia. Dong Wang from China won the Saga Furs award ensuring him one week of fur innovation workshop in Saga Furs Design Centre. ‘’We have a new socially and environmentally aware generation that is currently crafting the future, and we are very proud to have young designers from over 23 countries this year applying to take part in REMIX eager to demonstrate how natural fur can be responsible,’’ said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. This was the 16th edition of the international competition which the International Fur Federation (IFF) organises with the support of Vogue Talents. Alongside the Deputy Director of Vogue Italy and Head of Vogue Talents Sara Maino Sozzani, the jury gathered together Gabriele Colangelo, Creative Director of Giada, the Danish designer Astrid Andersen, the fashion blogger Bryanboy and the Sustainability expert Samantha De Reviziis. All the winners of REMIX 2019 will see their creations at the centre of in IFF’s upcoming fashion advertising campaign FUR NOW later this year.

Business

A new kind of businesses enter the fur trade


Feb 21 2019 - It is fashion week ‘season’ and true to tradition The One Milano fair takes place under the umbrella of Milan Fashion Week - and this year the organisers are spotting a new kind of exhibitors at The One Milano, the largest fur fair in Europe. “This year we have a lot of new companies exhibiting at The One Milano. These are people coming from other textile industries, and we appreciate this because they bring a fresh view on things,” Roberto Tadini, member of The One Milano Board of Directors, says. This year’s fair brings in a total of 393 exhibitors and some 8.000 buyers representing all European countries in addition to buyers from more than 20 countries in Asia, as well as countries in the Americas. According to Roberto Tadini, the exhibitors at this year’s The One Milano reflects a general change in the fur trade in which the traditional fur manufacturers either adapt to a modern style or the business fade away. Combined with the many new companies, the overall impression of the fair is strong before it kicks off Friday 22 February. “The quality of the exhibitors is very good. These are people who understand consumers and have a fresh, cool and more modern view on fashion. The whole fashion industry is changing, and with the millennial consumers sustainability is becoming very important to fashion,” Roberto Tadini says. In an extension of this and supported by Vogue the international fur design competition REMIX 2019 works under the theme ‘Responsibility’. The REMIX show takes place Sunday and concludes a competition counting more than 1.000 design students from 25 countries.

Design

International fur design competition focuses on sustainability


Feb 08 2019 - The finale of REMIX 2019 – a contest dedicated to young international designers, hosted by the International Fur Federation (IFF) and supported by Vogue Talents – the platform dedicated to the search, selection and visibility of talents, returns to Milan. An exceptional jury including, Sara Sozzani Maino, Gabriele Colangelo, Astrid Andersen, Bryanboy, and Samantha De Reviziis will declare the winners on the evening scheduled for February 24th. The sixteenth edition of REMIX returns to Milan during AW 19 Fashion Week. The theme for the international competition is Responsibility, a theme which all participants will have to display through their own interpretation, through their creations. Since its inauguration in 2004, intended to support young designers all over the world, REMIX has given opportunities to thousands of students to become part of the teams of the most important fashion houses: from Astrid Andersen, who showcases her collections during London Fashion Week, and Nicolas Martin Garcia, who is part of the design team of Roberto Cavalli; to Roderick Buijs, enlisted by Louis Vuitton, Thom Barends, a product designer for Haider Ackermann, and Sally Bohan, a senior design at Patagonia. After a long selection phase, which began in September 2018, 10 finalists were chosen from scores of applicants from 23 countries. These ten finalists will compete in the final on the evening of February 24th in Milan. The ten finalists, from all over the world, are: Long Chen - Asia REMIX winner Yuliya Yuknovich - Eurasia REMIX winner Alessia Rose Legault - Canada Dong Wang - China Elina Aarela - Finland Christelle Tran-Thiet - France Saskia Reggel - Germany Berivan Cemal - Netherlands Huseyin Ozer - Turkey Sirapop Dechraksa - USA An exceptional jury chaired by Sara Sozzani Maino will crown the winners of the 2019 edition, who will then see their creations at the centre of IFF’s annual fashion advertising campaign: FUR NOW, which will be distributed worldwide in both print and digital, as well as on their social platforms and official website. This year, whoever comes out on top will be awarded the REMIX Gold prize, sponsored by Kopenhagen Furs, where they will receive 25 premium quality Kopenhagen Fur Mink skins to create with, as well as a paid trip to Copenhagen for a weeklong stay at their design studio. During this one-week trip, the winner will have the opportunity to interact with expert craftsmen and explore the newest and most advanced fur processing techniques. REMIX Silver prize winner, sponsored by North American Fur Auctions (NAFA), will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Studio NAFA 2019 at NAFA’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada. Studio NAFA was created to innovate and cultivate expertise in the fur industry. The winner of this prize will learn and practice working with fur through an advanced curriculum taught by master furriers. This intensive training equips the current and next generation of fur designers with technical knowledge, skills and passion for the craft. The final award of the night will be awarded by Saga Furs. The winner of the Saga Award will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Saga Furs Design Centre for a one-week technical training course. Here they will attend a fur innovation workshop gaining access to Saga Furs 3,000 plus craft techniques archive. Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF states: "We are very proud to be representing one of the most sustainable and natural materials in the fashion industry and we keep encouraging young talent to get involved. The level of young designers that we see over the years at REMIX amazes me every time. Comparing creative minds around the world and showing their skills and abilities are key to maintaining this innovative, vital and modern industry. REMIX continues and will continue to push the boundaries of our industry, helping to change the perception of fur". "The new generation is our future. Never before in our history has it been so essential to look at sustainability and start thinking about producing in a sustainable way. Remix gives designers the opportunity to enhance the concept of sustainability by creating ad hoc projects," says Sara Sozzani Maino, Deputy Editor in Chief Vogue Italy and Head of Vogue Talents.

Sustainable fashion

“That’s a completely insane idea, but a good one. Let’s give it a try”


Jan 30 2019 - A fur farm waste product becomes sustainable yarn for fashion. That seems to be the result of the ReUseFoxHair (RUFH) project, administered by Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland. The project started with the idea of utilising the hair foxes drop before growing their summer coat. The goal was to test if it would be possible to use loose hair into the production of abrasive tools and polishing pads which the wood and automobile industries use during the finalising painting processes. ‘’Everything started when we did a company visit at Mirka Ltd’s premises with our International Business students; we saw that they produced polish pads made from sheep’s wool. That was when I thought that Blue Fox hair surplus could also be used as a material for the polishing pad. I later called the company’s product developer, and he said the idea sounded utterly insane, but good’’, explains fur expert and Project Manager Pia Blomström. Between the company, Centria University and public funding from the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia an experiment was set up to test out the options on a mini mill. ‘’When we first went to visit the mini mill with our fox hair, we ended up spending the whole day there testing the fur with the spinning mill’s staff. A few artisans appeared during our visit, having heard that something unusual was happening, they were eager to try too,’’ Blomström says. During the test, however, the Blue Fox hair proved too short to be used as originally intended. Instead, the research group came up with a discovery: Combining the Blue Fox hair with longer fibres such as alpaca and wild silk gives enough strength and length to create a yarn that is usable. ‘’By trying different combinations, we ended coming up with an extremely beautiful yarn, which will probably become a new yarn to be used in the fashion industry. The yarn can both be knitted and woven, ‘’Blomström explains. The experiment took place last fall, and the new yarn has yet to be put in production, but it demonstrated how innovation could turn waste into something beautiful and at the same time contribute to a circular economy.

Animal Welfare

WelFur gets stamp of approval by the European Commission


Jan 16 2019 - The European fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur has been endorsed by the European Commission as a Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative. It is the first animal welfare programme ever to be promoted in the Commission’s databaseof so-called ‘soft law’ initiatives. “The European Commission does not promote whitewashing, so it is a recognition of the credibility of WelFur and it shows the fur industry works responsibly with animal welfare and society,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, says. Fur Europe is the umbrella organisation for the whole value chain of the European fur sector. Amongst other things, the Commission’s description of WelFur reads: “WelFur is a science-based, practical and reliable on-farm assessment systems as an instrument to monitor and improve welfare and demonstrate, in a transparent way, good animal welfare practices.” All programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative must go through an evaluation process in which the programmes are assessed against a range of principles, including stakeholder participation, transparency, reliability, feasibility and legal compliance. Consequently, programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative are quite often the backdrop for binding legislation, and this is the very purpose for Fur Europe. “Fur Europe supports the idea of taking binding animal welfare legislation to the next level, whether this is at national or EU levels. WelFur assesses the animals rather than the housing system. It is dynamic and future-proof, and it comes with serious sanctions towards non-complying farmers. If someone looks at fur animal legislation, there is real no reason to look elsewhere, because WelFur is exactly what animal experts recommend,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. WelFur is developed by independent scientists at seven European universities, and is being implemented on 3.500 European mink and fox farms in the period 2017-2020.