Merino’s disappearing act

Researchers have found that 9 months is all it takes for merino garments to biodegrade. The discovery gives consumers another reason to buy merino garments and adds to the environmental advantages that makes Icebreaker popular.
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5 March 2012


Merino's disappearing act

Researchers have found that nine months is all it takes for merino garments to biodegrade. The discovery gives consumers another reason to buy garments made from merino and adds to the environmental advantages, comfort and performance benefits of the fibre, all of which have led to the popularity of brands such as Icebreaker.

Discerning customers increasingly insist on information about the environmental impacts of products. This consumer demand prompted The New Zealand Merino Company to commission trials comparing the biodegradation behaviour of merino and synthetic fabrics. Whole garments and fabric samples, including an Icebreaker merino base layer, were buried in soil and excavated at various intervals to assess the rate of biodegradation. The results came out strongly in favour of merino fabrics, which lost around 36% of their mass after only two months burial in soil and up to 99% after nine months. In comparison, the polyester knit fabrics did not degrade at all during the course of the nine-month trial period.

Maree Hamilton, a textile specialist from The New Zealand Merino Company, said, “There is a growing global trend toward eco-friendly apparel and textile products. In today's ‘throw-away' society the ability of a product to be composted, and to meet the ‘cradle-to-cradle' philosophy, provides retailers with an important point of difference and is seen as a definite advantage in the market.”

“The active outdoors market is a key segment for us and these consumers make considered choices regarding the impact of their lifestyle on the environment,” Hamilton explained. “These are people who live, work and play in the outdoors and already appreciate the comfort and performance benefits of merino garments. These new findings further validate their choice and demonstrate a huge advantage of merino over synthetics, which will not biodegrade at all.”

The research was carried out by The New Zealand Merino Company with financial assistance from the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (Inc).

-ENDS-


Video
View a video of the biodegradation trial and results at http://youtu.be/u2dsG6P0QxE


Background – The New Zealand Merino Company Ltd

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited (NZM) is an integrated sales, marketing, and innovation company focused on transforming New Zealand's merino sheep industry.

NZM selectively partners with the world's best brands, operating as a business extension by providing greater depth through specific expertise, and creating loyal brand advocates.

The New Zealand Merino Company's Zque Merino brand guarantees the best merino fibre available through an accreditation promgramme that ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability, animal welfare and traceability.

For more information contact:
Maree Hamilton
Project Manager and Textile Specialist
The New Zealand Merino Company
Ph: +64 3 335 0911
Email: maree.hamilton@nzmerino.co.nz
www.nzmerino.co.nz


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