In November 2021, the COP26 summit held in Glasgow held up a red flag for global fashion industry and the need to act fast and now. According to McKinsey report, under the current trajectory, the fashion industry will overshoot greenhouse gas emissions needed to achieve a 1.5º C global warming pathway by over one billion metric tons.
Need to focus on sustainable cotton
Given this scenario, sustainable cotton plays a major role as one of the most used fibers. The US has been in the forefront of sustainable cotton cultivation for over three decades and in 2020, the country established the US Cotton Trust Protocol. It envisions setting a new standard in production of sustainable cotton where full transparency is at the core and continual development to establish a green footprint is a must. The US Cotton Trust Protocol has its origins in recognizing that the US cotton industry had an important role to play in the protection and preservation of the planet and that it must do so via a system that was measurable and quantifiable.
The US Cotton Trust Protocol recognizes growing expectation of brands and retailers to provide goods that have highly transparent supply chains and a robust sustainability profile and also provide evidence of this. This is becoming important as governments are imposing stringent regulations for the fashion and textile sectors about origin, source and sustainability of fibers in use.
A farm level, science-based program that sets a new standard in more sustainably grown cotton, the US Cotton Trust Protocol brings verifiable goals and measurements to cotton production – driving improvements in land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
And as Gary Adams, president of the US Cotton Trust Protocol says, “The Trust Protocol measures, evidences and verifies sustainability credentials. With the Trust Protocol we are providing access to more sustainability grown cotton for brands and retailers, and science-based, data-led assurances that their consumers can have confidence in – something that has been lacking in the industry to date.”
Benefits for mills, manufacturers
Indeed, mills and manufacturers gain a lot when they join the Trust Protocol. The important benefit is being identified as part of a fully transparent supply chain and selected by brands and retailers as they look to source US cotton. In its two years, the Trust Protocol welcomed more than 800 mills and manufacturer members from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Latin America, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the US and Western Europe. The program also added 40 global brands and retailers including J. Crew, Madewell, Levi Strauss & Co. and, Gap Inc. as well as global apparel manufacturer Gildan.
As per Mike Quinn, Vice President of Operations, Gildan/Frontier Yarns Inc, “As brands and retailers respond to customer demand for sustainability, mills are now joining the conversation. Membership in the program enables us to show we are an approved supply chain partner for brands and retailers who are sourcing more sustainably grown cotton.” Having set the benchmark, the US Cotton Trust Protocol is an inspiration for cotton-growing regions worldwide.