RWS Draft ready for Second Public Review!

The second draft of the Responsible Wool Standard is ready for input.  A key element in our standard development process is to get broad stakeholder input, in alignment with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice.  To this end, we are asking for feedback on the RWS from all interested parties: see Stakeholder Review below.

The Review period is open until June 3, 2016 and we encourage you to send your comments in early.  Based on the feedback received, Textile Exchange and the International Working Group will make final revisions to the standard. During the first stakeholder review period, we received a large amount of feedback. This has been compiled with comments from Textile Exchange on how the feedback was addressed.

Stakeholder Review 1 Feedback (pdf)


About the RWS

Wool is an important fiber in the textile industry; it has a long history, and an even longer future. Its versatility, performance characteristics, and comfort give it great value in a range of applications, and keep it as a perennial favorite among consumers.

Wool owes its unique properties to the sheep that grow it, and we owe it to the sheep to ensure that their welfare is being protected.  To this end, Textile Exchange is developing the Responsible Wool Standard.

The RWS is being developed through an open, multi-stakeholder process. The International Working Group represents the broad spectrum of interested parties, including animal welfare groups, brands, farmers, wool suppliers, supply industry associations, covering both apparel and home categories.

The RWS is intended to be a global benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices in sheep farming. The goals of the standard are to provide the industry with the best possible tool to:

  • Recognize the best practices of farmers around the globe
  • Ensure wool comes from responsibly treated sheep, and from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land
  • Build communication and understanding between farmers, consumers and brands.
  • Provide a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product to ensure consumer confidence in RWS products

What does Responsible Mean?

The intent and spirit of the standard is best reflected by one of Oxford Dictionary’s definitions of responsible: “morally accountable for one’s behaviour.” Not only farmers, but brands and supply chain members need to meet their obligations to respect the land and Five Freedoms of the animals that provide their wool, and to meet the trust of consumers that are choosing RWS products.

RWS Key Points

protect animal

Protecting Animal Welfare

We are researching standards and best practices around the world to create criteria that ensure the five freedoms of sheep raised for wool are protected.

Preserving Land Health

We are working with leading land conservation organizations to collect the best methods of land management for sheep farms and methodology to measure land health across different regions.


Supply Chain Traceability

Our Content Claim Standard has already been proven as an effective third-party chain of custody standard to preserve the identity of materials as they move through the supply chain.

clear communication

Clear, Trustworthy Communication

With strong criteria for animal welfare, land management, and traceability, the standard will provide a tool for brands to communicate their efforts to their customers. Our website will eventually be a consumer-facing tool to support product labeling of the Responsible Wool Standard.

Stakeholder Engagement

Our process follows ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice in the development of sustainability standards. These methods ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to participate in the process of developing the standard. Our transparent process is open to everyone to follow through our notes and progress updates provided below.

Progress Updates

1402, 2016

Update 15 February, 2016

The first draft of the Responsible Wool Standard is ready for input.  A key element in our standard development process is to get broad stakeholder […]

802, 2016

Update 8 February, 2016

Over the past couple of months pilot audits of the RWS have been taking place in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, China, the UK […]

3010, 2015

Update October 30, 2015

In response to a direct letter sent from PETA, TE sent this response:

On behalf of Textile Exchange, I want to acknowledge your concern about the […]

Standard Development Process

The International Working Group is comprised of a Steering Committee, a Technical Group, and an Advisory Group.  The Steering Committee is tasked with guiding the scope and outline of the standard. The Technical Group conducts most of the primary research, as well as the writing of the documents. The Advisory Group is comprised of experts in the field who advise on specific issues as they come up.

Meeting Notes

Upcoming Meetings

  • Mulesing panel discussion, Thursday 19 May at 7am Eastern /9pm AEST/12noon BST. Register here
  • The next IWG meeting will be held following the Second Stakeholder Review.
  • RWS Brand Training event, Munich, 18 July. Register here

Second Stakeholder Review

Thank you for participating in the second review of the RWS.  The success of this global standard depends on the input of interested parties from all parts of industry, farming, and the world.

To participate in the review:

  • Read the standard documents carefully.
  • Enter your feedback into the Feedback Form provided using the columns provided.
  • Please send all feedback to before June 3. It will be very helpful to receive your feedback as early as possible!

Documents for review:



Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Webinar links

April 12, 2016 – RWS – Making it happen. Sustainable Apparel Coalition & European Outdoor Group

March 9, 2016 – Stakeholder Review Webinar

April 15, 2015 – Stakeholder Consultation for Development of a Global Wool Standard


Control Union
European Outdoor Group
International Wool Textile Organization

Humane Society International
Outdoor Industry Association
Savory Institute
The Nature Conservancy
UN Global Compact
Vier Pfoten Internation (Four Paws)



Animal Welfare Mapping Document. Textile Exchange. 2015.

The IWTO Guidelines for Wool Sheep Welfare. International Wool Textile Organisation. 2013.

Prevention and control of blowfly strike in sheep” RSPCA Research Report. August 2011.

Management to Avoid Tail Docking Sheep” Animal Welfare Approved Technical Advice Fact Sheet No. 2. September 2009.

Topical anaesthesia alleviates short-term pain of castration and tail docking in lambs” S Lomax, H Dickson, M Sheila, and PA Windsor. Australian Veterinary Journal Volume 88, No 3, 67-74. March 2010.

Scientific Opinion on the welfare risks related to the farming of sheep for wool, meat and milk production” EFSA Journal 2014;12(12):3933. European Food Safety Authority, 2014.

Welfare implications of tail docking of lambs” American Veterinary Medical Association. July 15, 2014.

Effects of Four Analgesic Treatments on the Behavioural and Cortisol Responses of 3-week-old Lambs to Tail Docking” MJ Graham, JE Kent, and V Molony. The Veterinary Journal 1997, 153, 87-97.

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