Non-profit Textile Exchange is developing a new tool to help brands and apparel manufacturers address the impacts associated with sourcing animal-derived fibres.

The new 'framework for animal welfare', which is expected to be completed by early 2019, will also allow Textile Exchange to expand into new fibre categories currently not covered by global standards.

The non-profit works to promote the adoption of preferred fibre and materials through its industry standards, which include the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).

The goals of both standards are to provide the industry with the best possible tool to recognise the best practices of farmers around the globe and create an industry benchmark for animal care and land management, while providing a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product.

Announced at this week's Textile Exchange Conference in Milan, Italy, the new framework is composed of a set of expected best practices categorised into the various elements of animal welfare and livestock production. Key modules include nutrition, living environment, husbandry, slaughter, transport, and management.

The soon-to-be completed Responsible Down Standard revision will rely on this framework to organise its requirements, while the Responsible Wool Standard revision, which will officially launch in January 2019, will also use the new framework.

In addition, it will be used in the development of the Responsible Leather Assessment (RLA) tool to evaluate existing standards and determine which will be recognised.

The development of the framework is being led by Textile Exchange's integrity and standards team, under the direction of Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity. The organisation is also collaborating with international animal welfare experts.