Mongolia is a cold and harsh country whose sheep count is about 30 million. However, unlike the merino breed in Australia and New Zealand, which gives fine and soft wool, Mongolian sheep wool is too coarse and thick for clothing uses.
This is why entrepreneurs in the region are looking at and succeeding in using this cheap wool for other purposes. The first of them is Tsogbadrakh Bayanjav. When he was the trade representative for Mongolia, he came in contact with scientists at Germany’s Humboldt University. He saw that they were experimenting with using sheep wool containing potassium and nitrogen in 100% organic fertiliser.
Tsogbadrakh runs a factory in Mongolia now, applying German technology to use imported machines to clean and crush wool into powder. This powder, in turn, is pressed into cylinder-like pellets and is capable of retaining 3.5 times its own weight in water. According to tests run by the company, these pellets can enhance and support the growth of plants for 10 months.
In the meantime, Eco Wool, located in Darkhan, has been experimenting for a long time with the role of sheep wool as the perfect insulator. The company owner, Byambadorj, claims sheep wool is seven times as effective as fiberglass for thermal resistance. It is highly fire-resistant too. Sheep wool can also be used for absorption of moisture and noise, perfect for humid climates.
The third new (and surprising) use of sheep wool is by Helen Botanical Beauty. The Mongolian company sells organic exfoliating soaps comprising woolen felt wrappers. Inside the wrapper is a soap that has sheep tail fat and various other natural ingredients that are sourced locally. Helen has also started producing wool balls for clothes dryers.