The US Cotton Trust Protocol established in 2020, has become the international benchmark for the sustainable farming of cotton worldwide in two years. Its commitment, transparency, meticulous data capture and aggregation that leads to annual reports has won over more than 40 global brands as members, such as: Levi Strauss & Co., Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc., Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta, and UK retailers Next Plc. and Tesco. Besides these reputable brands over it has over 900 mills and manufacturer members from 30 countries across the world like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, among others. The aim of this forum is to provide information on six key sustainability metrics for the cotton farming sector: efficiency of water and energy usage, soil conservation, soil carbon and land use and finally, greenhouse gas emissions.
Second annual report marks success
US Cotton Trust Protocol’s second annual report has been released showcasing the results for August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022. The latest report highlights show an encouraging way forward as grower members have been successful in implementation across the six key sustainable metrics. Almost 70 per cent of grower members reported positive soil conservation index – soil conservation index measures soil erosion and helps small farmers manage their properties better. It was reported that soil loss was reduced by 78 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions were cut down by 21 per cent. Water usage was down 14 per cent, energy usage was reduced 25 per cent and land use efficiency up 13 per cent. All 17 states in the US that produce cotton are now enrolled in the programme and in the pilot year, cotton production doubled to 1.1 million acres.
The success story for 2021-22 also included the approval of The US Cotton Trust Protocol as a standard for sustainable cotton by Siegelklarheit, an initiative of the German Federal Government and it has seen more members joining the forum across the supply chain. According to Gary Adams, President, U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, this is the only system that provides quantifiable, verifiable goals and measurement and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics - land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy efficiency. It is also the world’s first sustainable cotton fiber to offer its members article-level supply chain transparency through the Protocol Consumption Management Solution. The Trust’s value proposition As the global consumer, particularly younger consumer in developed and developing nations are questioning the modus operandi of the fashion industry and its sustainability commitments, the US Cotton Trust Protocol is a legitimate label brands and retailers can be proud to wear. Having access to the data that measures the progress made by different cotton manufacturers with respect to their commitment towards sustainability, these brands and retailers can then make informed purchase decisions that subsequently translate to their commitment to their customer base. India too has a good representation in the US Cotton Trust Protocol programme in terms of mills and manufacturers. Today, most Indian cotton manufacturers are adapting the Voluntary Sustainable Standards to ensure global protocols are adhered to.