Life Cycle Assessment

Collaborative Research | Cashmere Carbon+ Initiative

Several Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) currently exist that estimate the carbon footprint of cashmere, however the sources used and the accuracy of these estimates vary tremendously and are not specific to the unique characteristics of cashmere production. One problem that arises is that these numbers are based on extrapolations from industrial sheep wool production and are limited in their analysis of different geographical landscapes and production systems.

In order to make lasting impact in the cashmere sector, and be able to communicate that impact accurately, we need to have a clearer understanding of the industry’s environmental footprint and establish a baseline measurement on carbon. Only then will we be able to precisely measure, mitigate and report on cashmere’s Scope 3 emissions and support the 2030 net zero ambition. The SFA, CCMI and ICCAW are together facilitating a new research project on farm level LCAs as well as LCAs at the primary processing level with the goal to provide the industry with evidence-based estimates of the carbon, land and water footprints of producing dehaired cashmere in different regions across China and Mongolia.

To support the project – which will benefit the whole of the industry – The SFA would like to ask our members and partners to consider investing in this essential research. We have so far received commitments from Burberry, Johnstons of Elgin and Lora Piana to contribute to the new Life Cycle Assessment and help bridge the gap of carbon data for cashmere production.

Goal: 

Provide supporting brands with evidence based carbon (kgCO2e/kg dehaired fibre), land (ha/kg dehaired fibre) and water (L/kg dehaired fibre) footprints from different, representative production systems in China and Mongolia.

Outputs:

1. A detailed report to the funding brands including:

a. quantified carbon, land and water footprints of dehaired cashmere production in China and Mongolia

b. analysis of factors associated with variation in carbon footprints

c. assessment of options for reducing on-farm carbon footprint at household (China) and household and community (Mongolia) levels

2. A spreadsheet model containing carbon, land and water footprints from different regions and primary processing processes that brands can use to estimate their upstream footprints according to their own sourcing practices.

3. Publication of the LCA results in a scientific journal

4. A summary of the LCA findings for public communication.

Processing after dehairing is not included in the study because there is significant variability depending on how dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting etc is done. These post-dehairing processes can be assessed by each brand on an individual basis.

Effects of cashmere production on land degradation and water use in arid regions are also of concern. Life cycle analysis (LCA) can be used to quantify the carbon, land and water footprints of cashmere production in these areas. Biodiversity is also a key impact area, but it is much more challenging to collect the relevant data, so biodiversity footprint will be omitted at this stage of research.

If you would like to get involved, find contact details at the bottom of this page.

Proposed representative regions

Contact us

If you would like to get involved in this collaborative Cashmere carbon Impact research contact us by emailing sarah.krueger@sustainablefibre.org.