Wool Processing

Italian wool industry bankrolls global standards initiative

Terry Sim, May 3, 2024

Francesco Botto Poala

LEADING Italian wool processors and brands have offered to fund the creation of global traceability and sustainability standards for the natural fibre and increased advocacy in the European Union.

At the International Wool Textile Organisation Congress in Adelaide last month, Italian fabric maker Francesco Botto Poala outlined the proposal to create an IWTO ‘Green Book’ to define traceability and sustainability standards for wool that can become the global reference point.

As chairman of the Italian weaving company Reda, Mr Botto Poala is a member of the wool section of the Italian textile and fashion federation Sistema Moda Italia, that represents the whole Italian pipeline, from yarns to garments.

And on behalf of the SMI Italian Wool Section, Mr Poala offered the IWTO a first annual contribution of 100,000 euros  — equivalent to more than A$164,000 — to help create the ‘Green Book’ and strengthen advocacy activities at the EU level. This is in addition to what SMI already contributes to IWTO.

Mr Botto Poala said the SMI Italian Wool Section wanted the IWTO to strengthen wool advocacy at the EU level by promoting a close cooperation with other relevant stakeholders, such as Euratex  — the European Apparel and Textile Confederation of which SMI is an important member – in order to further wool’s interests.

“To this end we asked IWTO to promote a wool life cycle assessment (LCA) and subsequent product environmental footprint (PEF) highlighting wool’s unique features and differentiating it from man-made fibres,” he told Sheep Central.

Mr Botto Poala said subject to an annual deliberation by the SMI Italian Wool Section, the annual €100,000 contribution could be renewed for another two years until 2026 on the condition that concrete results are achieved, ideally by the next IWTO Congress that will take place in France.

“Such a congress could also be a good opportunity to invite brands and present to them the results of said ‘Green Book’,” he said.

Mr Botto Poala said the SMI Italian Wool Section was recently established to provide support to the wool sector and deal with related issues. Its objectives are to help shape an Italian wool industry strategy and influence the numerous EU textile and clothing dossiers, and strengthen Italy’s commitment towards, and involvement in, the IWTO, he said.

Mr Botto Poala said he and SMI Italian Wool Section president Luca Patti first raised the ‘Green Book’ and EU advocacy proposal in a meeting with IWTO representatives in Milan recently, before it was formally put forward at the IWTO Adelaide Congress where he was elected an IWTO ex-com member.

Mr Botto Poala said his impression is that the Italian proposal was well received within IWTO and he is confident that work to achieve the objectives will start very soon and achieve significant results. He said the IWTO should define traceability and sustainability standards for wool because it is the custodian of the value of the wool. The IWTO cites itself as “the global authority for standards in the wool textile industries” on its website https://iwto.org/about-iwto/.

Mr Botto Poala is hopeful that such global standards will create consistency/uniformity among the many integrity schemes around the world. Many organisations such as SMI, the IWTO and AWI/Woolmark have been working separately in the standards space.

“We need to work together to be stronger.”

Initiative has Australian industry support

Wool Industries Australia president David Michell with South Australian Governor Frances Adamson at the IWTO Congress in Adelaide.

IWTO member, Wool Industries Australia chair and owner of the 150 year-old processing and exporting business Michell Wool, David Michell, said the offer from the Italians is generous.

“The need to get control of the socially driven agenda is critical, so I support the initiative,” he said.

“IWTO has been managing the ever-changing customer facing landscape and has many programs in train, but with limited resources they can only do so much.

“This will help fast track the process.”

Mr Michell said the current textile situation reminds him of the ‘Big Tobacco’ marketing push in the 1950s.

“Big polyester is similarly framing the market place with their own version of the facts.

“So it’s time wool stands up and grabs back the narrative as we have a great story to tell.”

ACWEP president Josh Lamb.

Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Josh Lamb said Australian exporters get enquiries for various traceability and integrity schemes from our customers.

“Often the customer is unaware of the details or even which scheme they should buy against.

“Most wool producing markets have unique schemes local to their own requirements along with international ones,” he said.

“As this space continues to grow in importance, we must have a ‘standard of guidelines’ for all schemes to work off.

“This of course helps to inform the end user or brand about what’s available and help them determine which scheme is most appropriate,” Mr Lamb said.

“Having IWTO as the starting point makes complete sense.

“It’s a great initiative by the SMI Italian Wool Section to put their money into helping the global industry, not just Italy,” he said.

“As Mr Poala says, ‘we all need to work together for our industry’s future’.”

The Italian companies that raised the €100,000 contribution were Associazione Nazionale Del Commercio Laniero /Iwta, Benetton Group /Olimpias, Botto Giuseppe & Figli S.P.A., Drago Spa, Thomas  S.P.A., Fratelli Piacenza Spa, Schneider Sa, Lanecardate Spa, Lanificio Di Pray, Lanificio Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanificio Zignone S.R.L., Loro Piana Spa, Pettinatura Lane Di Romagnano Sesia, Progetto Lana Srl, Successori Reda Sbpa, Suedwolle, Tessilbiella, Trabaldo Togna Spa, Vitale Barberis Canonico and Zegna Baruffa.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Andrew Michael, May 4, 2024

    After attending the IWTO conference, it’s great to see the international processors and brand partners offering to fund the creation of a ‘Green Book’ to add truth to the sustainability and traceability of woollen products. Some of the presentations on the Tuesday of the conference left me wondering if Australia understands our markets and the importance of providence, traceability and sustainability. The Wednesday International presentations were outstanding, giving great insight to how our partners and forward-thinking businesses see the evolution of wool.
    Creating consistency and uniformity of global standards around the world that capture the importance of the positive aspects of the the life cycle and environmental footprint of wool needs to be addressed. The Australian wool pipeline needs to make National Wool Declaration’s mandatory, which will help with trust and transparency of our products. The wool industry is doing many things well on the traceability front in regard to animal welfare. Compare it to our sheep meat partners, where once the product leaves your farm there is no provision in the NVD to trace animal welfare management. Our international partners are seeking more information about our sheep throughout the processing pipeline.

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -