Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Felt the Earth: Creating opportunities in felting waste wool for the production of circular textiles in Aotearoa

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posted on 2023-04-23, 23:44 authored by Walkley, Charlotte

Waste wool is an abundant resource, however this resource is underutilised in Aotearoa’s textile industry. The application of non-woven, felted waste wool offers unique qualities and attributes that make it ideally suited as a sustainable material for textiles, as well as having a positive contribution to the development of New Zealand’s circular economy. Under our current linear system of consumption, waste wool, or “strong wool” (identified as 26> microns) is considered undesirable and of low value. Presently, incineration or landfill are common pathways for large quantities of this unwanted resource. The broad application of waste wool in textile production is challenged by preconceptions surrounding the value of waste, in addition to systemic favourability of synthetic materials perpetuated within the industry. This research is motivated by the need to change these perceptions in an effort to reduce waste and to support sustainable textile production in the context of Aotearoa. It is driven by the identification of a gap in knowledge surrounding viable techniques for the high-value creation of textiles made of waste wool. Through the application of wet and needle felting techniques, this research exemplifies the inherent values and unique potentials of this underutilised resource. The research is guided by empirical material studies and iterative methodologies. The technical investigations undertaken have been evaluated through the application of a rigorous design criteria. The outcome of this research indicates that felted waste wool is a profoundly adaptive and useful textile material, both physically and performatively. Furthermore, felted textiles comprised of this underutilised resource are capable of supporting a renewable and regenerative pathway for the cultivation of a circular textile economy in Aotearoa.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Design for Social Innovation

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

100199 Environmentally sustainable animal production not elsewhere classified; 189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified; 190103 Social impacts of climate change and variability; 280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design Innovation


Sweet, Tonya