OC-SAT provides an “all-encompassing” view of the benefits of organic cotton

OC-SAT provides an “all-encompassing” view of the benefits of organic cotton

International non-profit organisation Textile Exchange (TE) has launched an online tool that measures the environmental, economic and social aspects of organic cotton production.

The Organic Cotton Sustainability Assessment Tool (OC-SAT), TE says, is the first mechanism in the textile industry to provide an “all-encompassing” view of the benefits of organic cotton. While the tool has been developed for organic cotton, the assessment framework could be developed for other initiatives in the sector.

OC-SAT offers insight into the sustainability status of farmers certified to one or more of the internationally accepted organic agricultural standards. The reporting period from 2011-2013 covers 66,980 farmers, 82,016 hectares of land, and 41,882 metric tons of organic fibre, with the data analysis carried out in 2014.

Phase one of the release covers Africa, China, India and Turkey, while the remaining organic cotton producing regions, including Latin America, the US, Egypt and Central Asia, will be explored in phase two.

The results, TE says, show how farmers are successfully diversifying their crops, organising their farming communities and supporting female farmers. The challenges farmers face such as pricing and payment, climate change, and lack of access to non-genetically modified seed, are also highlighted.

The tool is part of TE's efforts to chart tangible data on organic cotton cultivation, and builds on the findings of its recently published Cycle Assessment (LCA) of organic cotton. According to the study, organic cotton production shows a significant cut in global warming potential, soil erosion, water use and energy demand.

The framework for the OC-SAT was developed in line with the work of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, as well as other organisations that have spearheaded this new science of broader sustainability assessment.

“It is only with assessment tools that are simultaneously very practical and science-based that we can sufficiently understand the social, economic, and environmental impacts of cotton production,” said Daniele Giovannucci, president & co-founder of COSA.

“If we are committed to improving the overall strategies of sustainability then such an investment is necessary in order to better manage spending, engage all stakeholders, and optimise good practices to attain the outcomes that we collectively seek.”