The Responsible Wool Standard

The RWS is an international standard for the production of wool.

It is available through NewMerino operating as an Internal Control System (ICS) under the Group Certification Model as described in the RWS standard documents.

The NewMerino registration and verification system is designed to provide a single platform through which growers can become certified to NewMerino and / or the RWS.


NewMerino standards are closely aligned with the RWS and the current version is in a very similar format to make it easy to compare.

The only differences are where Australian conditions or laws dictate.

If you qualify as a ‘Certified NewMerino Grower’ you will almost certainly qualify as RWS. The key difference is in the administration and auditing process and the Textile Exchange and Certifying Body fees. Because of this, the cost of RWS certification is a little higher.

A detailed explanation of the operation of the NewMerino standards is provided below.

Click the RWS logo to visit the Responsible Wool Standard web site

NewMerino can provide Internal Control Systems (ICS) for RWS broker groups or independent grower RWS groups.


NewMerino® standards are based on internationally recognised principals.

The Five Freedoms is the overarching criteria for animal welfare along with detailed elements for nutrition and animal husbandry procedures.

A ‘shearing code of conduct’ detailing the requirements for shearing contractors is included.

Land management addresses issues for long term sustainability and holistic farming principles with the goal of developing and maintaining a resilient ecosystem that can withstand stress and rebuild when necessary.

Infrastructure, maintenance and general and administrative management is also addressed.

The 2017 version of the NewMerino® standards has been formatted in the same style and using the same non-conformance codes and categories as the Textile Exchange Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). This has been done to make it easier for 3rd parties to compare and identify any difference.

When comparing these you may find:

  • Some of these standards may be expressed more simply in this format.
  • Some have been modified for Australian conditions or laws (these have all been clearly identified).
  • There may be some exceptions where state or federal laws dictate otherwise.

Notwithstanding this, the NewMerino® standard closely reflect the standards established in the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) while at the same time acknowledging that they must be commercially viable to implement.

It must be recognised that there are conditions and circumstances that may vary from region to region and country to country and that these need to be accommodated without compromising the primary goal of the each section of the standard.

Australian conditions:

Australian merino wool growing enterprises vary from small to very large, from low rainfall to high rainfall areas, from super fine wool to broad wool, from closely settled areas to remote outback stations, from highly fertile mixed farming measured in sheep per hectare to single enterprise pastoral zones measured in hectares  per sheep.

While this has resulted in very different management systems being developed, the same basic animal welfare and land management outcomes can be achieved while acknowledging the particular conditions in some areas.


Australia is a large country and merino wool is grown across a wide geographic area. The cost of on-farm audits is high due to travel costs.

The RWS calls for on farm audits of every farm every yearNewMerino® does not conduct physical audits of every farm in the group every year as it makes the cost of verification commercially unviable.

All NewMerino farms are subject to on-farm verification audits prior to achieving ‘Certified Merino Grower’ status. In addition they may be randomly selected for independent audit by the Certifying Body (CB) based on auditing the SqRoot of the number of farms actively supplying wool. Additionally they will be re-audited from time to time by NewMerino®.

To reduce cost but without diluting the integrity of the standard, NewMerino® has designed systems for reaffirming the status of an individual farmer without the need to conduct a physical on-farm audit every year.

How is this achieved:  Any farm that is currently supplying into a NewMerino verified consignment will be required to sign a 21 point declaration that the farm is still operating in accordance with the standards established and verified at the initial on-farm audit. This declaration covers all the critical NC1 components for both animal welfare and land management.

Traceability & Transparency:

Genuine traceability is very important to the integrity of a standards program.

To eliminate the additional costs and delays of a separate off-shore transaction certificate model, NewMerino® has a built in transaction certificate system which collects details of the transaction from the point of sale by individual farmers contributing wool to the consignment, through the export stage and on to top making and spinning.  This enables a Certificate of Origin and Attributes to be made available to the brand as soon as spinning is complete. This certificate is underpinned by separate declarations and data provided by the top maker and spinner.

To demonstrate full transparency, the details of every line of wool included in the processing consignment are available to the brand if requested.  Note: There is a graphic in standards for additional understanding.