New Circular Design Guide aims to advice and inspire brands to use more Swedish wool
Lessons learned? The complexity of wool, the project coordinator shares.
29 Jan 2024

In 2020, about 20 organisations all over the whole value chain, led by non-profit Axfoundation, joined forces for The Swedish Wool Initiative with the vision that no Swedish wool should be wasted.

Last fall, the next step was taken, with the launch of The Swedish Wool Standard. Now, the project presents a new guide, initiated by the industry players Science Park Borås, Filippa K, Fjällräven, Tiger of Sweden, Klippan Yllefabrik and their key suppliers who have worked with product development of products based on Swedish wool. 

— Their learnings and insights are shared in the Circular Design Guide, Lena-Marie Jensen, Project Coordinator at Science Park Borås, explains. The guide is a tool for companies who want to work with Swedish wool in a circular and sustainable way. It covers both practical steps related to design and product development, as well as generic aspects of circular business models. The focus on Swedish wool put into a systemic perspective is unique, I think, and it shows how wool, right handled and used, is a valuable resource for the textile industry.

What’s been the hardest when you created The Swedish Wool Initiative and this guide?

— One of the biggest challenges is the complexity of wool. The Swedish wool market, as in many European countries, is characterised by several different sheep breeds with a wide variety of wool types. The solution that was created, The Swedish Wool Standard, is a classification system and set of work methods aims to increase the quality of Swedish wool and makes it easier to trade Swedish wool on an industrial scale. So now there is a common language for dealing with wool produced in Sweden.

— For this guide, I think the biggest challenge is the same — the complexity of Swedish wool. But this is also a possibility; if you combine right wool quality with right application or product, the function and aesthetical value in the final product will last for a very long time, which means a great advantage in a circular economy. Working with the Design Guide have made me more convinced that Swedish wool is a valuable resource for textiles, Jensen shares.

What are the takeaways from the guide?

— Right type of wool in the right product, let the wool guide you in designing your product, and consider options for long life-span, like reuse, repair, and repurpose in your business model, since design, material, and business model are tightly intertwined.

Photography: Vasilios Bartziokas for Science Park Borås
Photography: Vasilios Bartziokas for Science Park Borås
The guide.

Johan Sidenmark, Axfoundation, what are the next steps for The Swedish Wool Initiative?

— We’re relentlessly continuing to drive this initiative forward towards zero waste of Swedish wool! he states. A new project is just launched where partners are testing new business models, aiming for a regional collection station for Swedish wool, and involving industrial designers to broaden the scope and develop new innovative products based on Swedish wool as a raw material in various industries, such as furniture, construction, and gardening.

The guide is available here

More insights on the transformation to a sustainable circular economy are available in Science Park Borås’ annual report Mind the gap(s), where the latest addresses gaps that need to be bridged in order to accelerate the transition to more sustainable consumption

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