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Biodegradable Wool Test Complete!

You may remember that back in June Campaign for Wool global patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, hosted a very special experiment, at Clarence House, to demonstrate just how quickly wool can biodegrade in soil.

Two sweaters were buried side by side in a flowerbed, they looked the exactly same but there was one crucial difference. One was a pure merino wool sweater, the other was a synthetic look-a-like, and as part of our Wool Week celebrations, The Campaign for Wool went back to the burial site to see what had happened to each over the four month period they spent in the ground.




The sweaters look very different now.  The merino wool sweater is on its way to complete decomposition and is being held together by the wire frame, if we had left the sweater in the soil for much longer we should expect it to completely disintegrate. The synthetic sweater, however, is virtually un-touched by its time in the ground –  it’s clean, white and totally intact and has suffered no visible degradation at all.

Biodegradability is a key issue for all of us as our throw away society creates more and more landfill. In the UK alone, around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing and 370,000 tonnes of carpets go to landfill every year. The numbers are similar for other developed countries.

Products made out of synthetic fibres can take 30 – 40 years to degrade, contributing to the ever-increasing piles of waste. Because it naturally degrades in a fraction of that time, wool is the obvious choice for anyone concerned about the health of our planet.

With special thanks to John Smedley for supplying the merino wool sweater and the International Wool Textile Organisation for the key facts on landfill.


For detailed information on wool’s biodegradable properties and other wool industry data please visit:

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