There’s a fine line when it comes to deeming a fiber “sustainable” — especially when it’s cotton. But a handful of domestic cotton producers are already farming responsibly, and view the emergence of sustainability as an opportunity for vast and impactful improvement throughout the cotton industry. To achieve that end, the National Cotton Council created a pilot of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a new program developed to help the U.S. cotton production sector continue reducing its footprint by allowing producers to track their progress against specific sustainability goals — and to increase awareness of domestic cotton producers that are already doing it right. A pilot of the program was initiated earlier this year, and full implementation is scheduled for 2020.
The Trust Protocol aims to help U.S. cotton achieve national sustainability goals by 2025, which include an 18 percent increase in irrigation efficiency, 39 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and 15 percent reduction in energy expenditures, among other lofty and important goals.
Recently, an inaugural board was named for the Trust Protocol, which includes delegates from different aspects of the supply chain, leading industry, scientific and academic experts, and representatives from global environmental organizations. Directors representing the raw cotton industry include major players, such as Levi Strauss & Co. and Suzy Friedman from the Environmental Defense Fund, alongside advisors such as Jesse Daystar from Cotton Inc., and Marc Lewkowitz of Supima.
Ken Burton, Trust Protocol executive director, said the board “brings unmatched expertise within the cotton industry, a thorough understanding of the sustainability challenges facing the textile industry and experience within the retail sector. Working together, the board will ensure the protocol will meet sustainability requirements throughout the supply chain and provide an unmatched level of transparency and accountability.”
And companies such as Applied DNA, a molecular technology provider, support the need for accountability — and said terms such as “eco-friendly,” “natural,” “green” and “organic” are vague labels that can confuse and mislead consumers. To tackle that, the firm will collaborate with Reliance Industries Ltd. — an Indian-based firm that began in textiles and polyester, and now touts an integrated portfolio of products and services from energy to entertainment — to develop and commercialize apparel made from RIL’s R Elan GreenGold fabric and Recron GreenGold recycled polyester and fiber and filament, powered by Applied DNA’s CertainT platform, which allows raw materials and products to be tagged with a unique molecular identifier.
Gunjan Sharma, chief marketing officer, Polyester Business at RIL, said “Our R Elan brand is growing in apparel and it is used by brands such as Arrow, Lee, Wrangler, Raymond, Anita Dongre, Kappa and many more. These brands now have the option to add CertainT forensic traceability to assure that their products are sustainable, traceable — and authentic.”
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