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  

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.