Traceability: Next Big Trend in Fashion (and Politics)
Mar 11, 2020 by Vladislava Gospodinova
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.
Other Stories In This Issue
Sustainable Fur and the Circular Economy Action Plan
Mar 09, 2020 by Mick Madsen
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 April.
Natural fur is the ultimate example of a circular productThe 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 beyondWhile 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 21 April at the European Parliament of Brussels. More information will soon be available on the website sustainablefur.com.
Natural Fur: global sustainability strategy launched in London
Feb 21, 2020 by Mick Madsen
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.