Instead of getting carded, most Swedish wool gets discarded

2:35 min

It's estimated that almost 75 percent of all the wool that's produced in Sweden is either burned or thrown away, mainly because Swedish sheep farmers are having trouble finding buyers, Swedish Television News reports.

Sweden produces approximately 600 tonnes of wool every year, but it's estimated that only about a quarter of it is actually being used - the rest is either thrown away, buried or burned.

In neighbouring Norway, the figures look completely different. There, the country's textile industry uses about half of all the wool that's produced and the rest is exported to the UK.

So, why can't Swedish sheep farmers follow suit? According to Nina Östman, who runs a small sheep farm in central Sweden, it's mainly because Sweden doesn't have an organisation or a network that helps farmers get in contact with potential buyers.

"We don't have the right tools to compete on a global market. We need some kind of national sheep association to reach more buyers," Östman says.

In Norway, the agricultural cooperative Nortuna fills that role.

But a nation-wide network of buyers and sellers or an organisation is not the only thing that could improve the situation, according to Östman. She would also like to see special depots where farmers can drop off their wool, and a Swedish classification system for different kinds of wool.

Many farmers are also having trouble finding places to get their wool washed or to find wool mills that can refine their products, according to Swedish Television, SVT.

Nina Östman showed Swedish Television News dozens of bags full of wool that she has saved because she hasn't found a buyer and because it's been to difficult for her to throw away.

"It's a shame that people can't seem to grasp the value of Swedish wool and that so much of it just goes to waste, it's terrible," she says.

Östman adds that the fact that Sweden often imports products made out of wool from countries where the animal welfare legislation offers less protection makes matters even worse.

"There have to be textile industries and designers out there who could make garments or other products with Swedish wool too. The quality is often just as high here as in Norway," she adds.