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).

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 other textile sectors such as the leather and wool sector, which work together to develop PEFCRs. The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) are guidelines which clarify how to apply the Product Environmental Footprint method to measure the environmental footprint of products. The European Commission has developed the initiative amid pressure for a harmonised method assessing the environmental impact of products. At the moment, there are different ways to do that and numerous labels around, all the while European consumers are asking for more transparency. Currently, PEF is a non-legally binding recommendation. The Commission hopes that after testing the criteria with more products, it will become the basis for EU-wide legislation benchmarking goods from batteries to pasta and clothing materials. The pilot phase proved it possible to track environmental performance across large-scale supply chains. The uplifting results mean the European Commission has given the green light to the next stage, the so-called transition phase, in which existing PEFCRs can be implemented and new ones - like the one covering natural fur - can be developed. In three years, when the transition phase of research and consultations is over, the apparel and footwear sector hopes to have the tools to measure precisely the environmental impact of their products. These rules will also apply to fur, and this will enable the fur sector to calculate the environmental footprint and label fur products accordingly.

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."

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.

Sustainability

Learning how to remodel 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.