This framework aims to enhance standards in the crucial process of ginning and support fashion retailers to create the most ethical and transparent supply chains.

CottonConnect explains that its work with over 100 gins over the past six years has laid the foundation for its new code of conduct.

It says the Responsible Business for Gins Code of Conduct considers the unique challenges faced by gins, which play a critical role in the cotton supply chain.

Ginning is the mechanical process of separating cotton balls from seeds and stalks using specialised machinery. Despite progress in the sector, CottonConnect explains some gins continue to operate under undesirable working conditions, which jeopardises the health and safety of workers.

It says the code aims to rectify these issues and ensure the gin phase receives the attention it deserves in the quest for ethical supply chains.

CottonConnect also highlights the framework is the result of collaborative efforts among multiple industry stakeholders and independent verification bodies. It aims to address key concerns related to the mechanical process, including social, environmental, and traceability issues. By encouraging gins to adopt best practices and policies, the code promotes a hygienic working environment, safeguards the rights of gin workers, and bridges the awareness gap regarding industry standards among gin owners, supervisors, and workers.

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CottonConnect CEO Alison Ward said: “Our goal is to support retailers to have more transparent and ethical supply chains. Improving standards at gins is part of that. A fully sustainable supply chain must include the ginning stage.”

Industry insiders have welcomed CottonConnect’s leadership in developing the Responsible Business for Gins Code of Conduct. Jayesh Patel, director of Omax Cotspin Pvt. Ltd., praised the initiative, noting its potential to transform the industry and added: “This code addresses the most pressing issues related to gin, including social, environmental, and traceability concerns. By focusing on these crucial aspects, CottonConnect is taking a comprehensive approach to drive positive change in the gin phase of the textile supply chain.”

CottonConnect’s long-standing partnerships with gins in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are said to have been instrumental in shaping the Responsible Business for Gins Code of Conduct. The organisation has worked closely with gins since 2016, assisting them in assessing potential issues and developing health and safety protocols. Plus, positive results from pilot programmes involving gins have further validated the effectiveness of the code, with direct input from the ginning sector influencing its creation.

The organisation has previously developed codes of conduct for sustainable cotton farmers, regenerative cotton farmers, and sustainable linen farmers, all of which have yielded significant improvements. Now, with the Responsible Business for Gins Code of Conduct, CottonConnect hopes to elevate standards in the ginning phase of the textile supply chain and make it an integral part of a fully sustainable supply chain.

To ensure the rigorous implementation of the code, CottonConnect explains independent verification agency Peterson will verify compliance with the framework.

Last month CottonConnect and product traceability solutions company Haelixa joined forces to deliver digital and physical cotton traceability throughout the supply chain.