A sustainable cotton programme thought to be the only one operating in the US has generated "great interest from companies around the world," according to its founders.

The e3 scheme means American-grown cotton can be certified as sustainably produced, and is already available in commercial quantities.

Introduced by Bayer CropScience in a licensing deal with New York-based textile and apparel company Olah Inc, e3 provides stringent, third-party verified guidelines for farmers in the US who grow Certified FiberMax or authentic Stoneville cotton.

For mills and brands, benefits of the programme are said to include the fact that it address the working/living conditions of growers and labourers and the needs of the surrounding community, as well as helping make farms financially competitive.

It also provides information on the impact of farming practices on natural resources, thereby encouraging reduced use of water, land and energy.