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Does your clip meet the EU Ecolabel standard?

by Lillian Mukandiwa,
ParaBoss Technical Manager
June 2018

Consumers in the major foreign markets are increasingly seeking to make environmentally friendly purchases and may pay premiums, so it is important to keep the residual level of lice and fly treatment chemicals within set limits. According to Australia Wool Innovation the levels of compliance with the “EU Ecolabel” criteria are high in Australia and have been so since the early 2000s. Unfortunately, some products commonly—and legally—used in Australia result in residues that are highly likely to exceed the limits accepted by the EU Ecolabel.

What is the EU Ecolabel?

The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) adopted the EU Ecolabel standard as its definition for ‘eco-wool’, both for wool production and as an ‘environmental best practice standard’ for wool processing.  IWTO is the international body representing the interests of the world's wool-textile trade and industry. It is the recognised global authority for manufacturing standards in the wool textile industry. The adoption of the EU Ecolabel standard by the IWTO reinforces the importance of protecting and maintaining the ‘clean, green, and natural’ environmental image of wool. Under the EU Ecolabel products are certified for their ‘kindness to the environment’. The standards for residue levels in greasy wool can be met by following some simple rules about chemical use.

What can you do to produce an EU Ecolabel compliant clip?

Your wool will be compliant with the EU Ecolabel if:

  • Sheep have not been treated with an external parasite product since last shearing. 

or

  • any cyromazine product
  • any macrocyclic lactone product
  • any imidacloprid product
  • any spinosad product
  • any magnesium fluorosilicate product
  • any diazinon product, provided treatment was more than 7 months before shearing. Method of application may affect this. 
     *Wool harvesting intervals (WHI) must be adhered to.

While these products are legal to use, treating sheep with the following products in between shearings, including directly off-shears, is likely to exceed the EU Ecolabel residue target:

  • any synthetic pyrethroid product
  • any triflumuron product
  • any diflubenzuron product
  • any dicyclanil product applied as a backline (excluding breech-only treatments)
  • any diazinon product within the 7 months leading up to shearing. Note: This varies with method of application.

ParaBoss recommends that wool from struck sheep is not included in EU Ecolabel lots where wound and flystrike dressing treatments from the above list have been used. While a small proportion of the mob being treated would generally not affect the probability of the combined wool clip meeting the required standard, the application rate to struck sheep is variable and very hard to predict. In the case of treatment of a whole mob (e.g. at marking or mulesing), provided the pesticide is not applied to the body, it will not end up in fleece wool and should not exceed the limits.

Meeting the EU Ecolabel may provide a small price premium if wool is sold through a supportive broker or selling method; some wool brokers and many smaller agents offer greasy wools for sale that meet the EU Ecolabel requirements and also conduct specialist sales of ‘eco-wool’. For example, Landmark, in partnership with a Chinese firm, has been running a program for crossbred eco-wool for about 20 years. According to David Brook of Landmark, during this period they have provided wool growers with price premiums varying from 5 to 10%, although a premium is not always guaranteed. The wool is processed in China and sold mainly for the soft furnishing industry to Germany, Japan and some even comes back to Australia.

Use the LiceBoss Wool Residue Tool to select lice or flystrike treatments at times between shearings that will lead to a compliant clip.