April 11, 2008
April 11, 2008 - Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has become an important tool for measuring the impact that a product has on the environment, from the extraction of raw materials, through the production process and final product use, disposal or recycling. A simplified LCA has been conducted on New Zealand merino wool to determine total energy use and carbon dioxide emissions from on-farm production of wool through scouring, carding and combing and then to the processed wool tops being delivered to a spinning factory in China.
The results from this study provide an initial quantification of energy impacts that will help the merino industry understand its position relative to other fibers. According to the study, producing New Zealand merino wool fiber uses significantly less energy resource than it takes to manufacture fossil-fuel dependent, man-made fibers. For example, nylon manufacture uses over five times more energy, acrylic 3.8 times more energy and polyester 2.7 times more energy than it takes to produce the equivalent weight of wool fiber.
Although the results of this study are specific to New Zealand merino wool and other wool classes are likely to have different energy profiles due to differences in farming systems and farm productivity, it does provide useful information in comparing wool to man-made fibers.
The study, Life Cycle Assessment: New Zealand Merino Industry Merino Wool Total Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide Emissions, is available at www.merinoinc.co.nz/Reports/LCA_NZ_Merino_Wool.pdf