The Feasibility of Large-Scale Composting of Waste Wool

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Although wool remains a popular fiber due to its durability, comfort, and ease of quality production, increasing the sustainability of wool fashion products requires attention to all portions of the wool life cycle, including production of sheep to provide the wool. Managing sheep in many regions of the globe results in excess or waste wool that is not suitable for the textile or fashion supply chain. One way to increase the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of wool production is to compost the waste wool into soil amendments and landscaping aids that can provide producers with additional income, provide horticulturalists with an environmentally friendly alternative to other soil amendments, and provide communities that depend on sheep a pride in the value of all parts of the life cycle. This chapter outlines an experimental study that was conducted to determine the proper proportions of sheep waste products to other biomass that would be needed in a large-scale composting operation in order to produce a high quality compost valuable to the horticulture and agriculture industries. The results of an experimental trial with waste wool determined that a 25 % waste wool, 50 % grass clipping, and 25 % horse stall waste mixture provided the optimal results for composting in a large-scale manner. Separation of compacted wool, if transported in wrapped bundles, proved essential for allowing sufficient decomposition of the waste wool. The composting produced was tested and determined to be of acceptable quality.

Hustvedt, G. Meier, E. and Waliczek, T. (2015) The Feasibility of Large-Scale Composting of Waste Wool Green Fashion. Muthu, S. and Gardetti, M. (eds.) part of the Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes Book Series. Springer: Singapore.