New methods of drawing up life cycle assessments (LCAs) are set to improve the reporting of wool’s environmental performance.

According to a scientific study reported in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, existing LCAs produce widely varying results depending on the method used to divide the environmental impact of wool and meat production.

The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) believes it is "particularly important" that global benchmarking systems for wool are based on "technically sound and transparent" methodology.

The new solution involves allocating the environmental impact based on the different protein requirements for wool and meat production.

It was devised following an examination of seven different methods for handling the co-products from case study sheep farms in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

"Over time this will result in more consistent reporting of the positive environmental performance of wool, and provide assurance to the retailers, brands and marketers that are involved or have an interest in wool that they have the most accurate data set, and thus the most accurate understanding of the true environmental footprint of wool," said Dr Paul Swan, general manager research for Australian Wool Innovation and chair of the IWTO’s Sustainable Practices Working Group.

Dr Swan was also responsible for bringing together the world’s leading LCA experts to conduct the research.