At a recent wool meeting someone brought up the need to help protect and save the environment and try to address some of the damage the human race has done to the planet. His point, I assume from the Shetland wool producing view point, was to encourage more use of native Shetland hill sheep and wool. As an individual I have handled and marketed native Shetland hill wool from Shetland sheep kept on the heather clad mills and moors for over 50 years, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Pollution of our planet has brought about today all the very visible sad events we are witnessing due to global warming. It is the processing end of greasy wool that I wish to talk about, in particular wool scouring. No matter how little foreign matter passes through our hands and into our ecosystem it will add to the damage done to our planet.
The regulations that apply to the scouring process are very strict and are levied by the UK Environment Agency and also by the Water Company that removes effluent from the plant. The company who scour our Shetland wool Haworth Scouring must ensure that they meet a number of stringent limits on the wash and rinse water that is discharged from the process so that grease, dirt, suint salts and any residual sheep dip pesticide are all minimised – the latter are at the part million or even part billion levels. To do this Haworth Scouring Company use a dedicated on – site effluent treatment plant comprising coarse filtration, grease extraction, decanter centrifuging and dissolved air flocculation. As much of the rinse water as possible is recycled within the process by using a separate ultra-filtration system. This effluent treatment plant represents several million pounds of investment to make Haworth Scouring Company probably the most environmentally responsible plant of its type in the world.
Energy and water use are both kept to a minimum and Haworth Scouring Company is part of a Climate Change Levy Agreement to continually reduce impacts on the atmosphere.
All solid wastes from the process are either re-used as chemical feedstock (wool grease is a valuable source of cholesterol chemicals in pharmaceuticals and in animal feeds) or are directly applied to the land as fertiliser because their high nitrogen and potassium content is beneficial to soil. Other wastes such as plastic and cardboard packaging and metal bale bands are recycled using local companies.
Haworth Scouring Company is continually looking to improve all its processes and especially those associated with the environment and have achieved several levels of accreditation including Enco Certification ISO14001 and ISO9002.
Shetland is renowned for its beauty. Its heather clad hills, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters which in turn are the habitat for all types of marine life, we at Jamieson & Smith are very proud of the fact that we in no way pollute our shores.
It is not only the responsibility of the producer of woollen goods to ensure that these environmental standards are met but also the end user who must ask for assurance from their supplier that the product they purchase conforms to the highest standard.