The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Icebreaker, Smartwool and Allbirds will work collectively with 167 sheep growers in New Zealand to create ZQRX, the world’s first regenerative wool platform. “ZQRX is an important and necessary evolution of our ethical wool program, ZQ,” said John Brakenridge, NZM’s CEO. “Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions down to zero.”

Building on the success of ZQ’s ethical wool platform, ZQRX is “the next evolution of doing what is right for both people and the planet,” according to NZM. Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are addressed within ZQRX, with regenerative farming practices representing a significant opportunity to store carbon and slow climate change. The ZQRX index incorporates ZQ’s cornerstones of animal welfare and social responsibility, as well as an increased focus on environmental issues that directly reduce carbon emissions and improve biodiversity, such as waste, water quality, and soil health. The new index is currently being applied to 167 farms in New Zealand that manage over one million hectares of land. This results in carbon being retained and stored in soil and vegetation, while also seeing many additional benefits for animal welfare and social responsibility.

Icebreaker and Smartwool helped found the original ZQ platform 13 years ago, while Allbirds, which also sources ethical wool from ZQ, will be the first fashion brand to label every garment produced with its carbon footprint. Combined, the three brands represent about 2 million kilograms of wool. Together, they have committed to sourcing their New Zealand Merino wool through the ZQRX platform, ensuring a successful launch of the groundbreaking regenerative program.