Kiwis look to a wool future beyond carpets - maybe even shampoo

New Zealand looks to revive its wool industry by turning fleeces to powder

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Lathering your hair with sheep shampoo, even touching up your lipstick - these are just some surprise new uses being tested for wool.

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WOOL RESCUE: New Zealanders are looking to turn around the fortunes of its wool industry by turning its coarse wools into something consumers want. Picture: WRONZ.

WOOL RESCUE: New Zealanders are looking to turn around the fortunes of its wool industry by turning its coarse wools into something consumers want. Picture: WRONZ.

Lathering your hair with sheep shampoo, even touching up your lipstick - new products are being tested to revive New Zealand's flagging wool industry.

A factory in New Zealand has been set up to help turn around the country's strong wool fortunes.

Basically this factory is going to turn wool into a powder which can be used to make things people want, not the carpets they were once famous for.

The Kiwis are one of the world's biggest suppliers of the high-micron wools made into carpets, an industry which has taken a battering from synthetic rivals over the past decade.

New Zealand's wool production, 90 per cent of which is strong wool, has dived with declining sheep numbers and many farmers making losses on wool sales.

This latest initiative, backed by the NZ government, is to turn wool into particles and turn fleeces into something consumers want.

The country's wool research organisation, WRONZ, has spun off a company called Wool Source to develop the new products.

A pilot production facility has been opened at Lincoln University to manufacture its first deconstructed wool ingredients.

MORE READING: Kiwi inventor makes a boat from wool.

This new plant is to develop unique wool particles, powders and pigments with global export potential for applications as diverse as cosmetics, printing, luxury goods and personal care.

The government's Ministry for Primary Industries has given $1.95 million to the project alongside $2.92 million from WRONZ.

"By funding fundamental and enabling science that creates new uses and products from our traditional wool clip, we aim to create better outcomes for farmers with increased demand and pricing at the farm gate and create sustainable value across the wool sector," WRONZ chairman Andy Fox said.

The three-year program aims to prove the commercial viability of the new deconstructed wool particle products.

The goal is to develop more sustainable product ingredient alternatives for global manufacturers and consumers - while revitalising New Zealand's strong wool sector.

One possible wool product is shampoo and other hair related products which have keratin in them.

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