US Cotton Trust Protocol opens up to brands and retailers - Just Style
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US Cotton Trust Protocol opens up to brands and retailers

By Hannah Abdulla 15 Jul 2020

A new data-led sustainability programme for responsibly produced US cotton is now opening up its membership to brands and retailers so that cotton from its growers can begin to enter the supply chain.

US Cotton Trust Protocol opens up to brands and retailers

A new data-led sustainability programme for responsibly produced US cotton is now opening up its membership to brands and retailers so that cotton from its growers can begin to enter the supply chain.

Starting today (15 July), brands and retailers will be able to join as members of the US Cotton Trust Protocol, a new initiative designed to help them source US cotton with more confidence by providing annual data for six areas of sustainability in line with the UN Sustainability Goals.

Available for the first time, this year-over-year data will allow greater transparency and traceability, and enable brands and retailers to better measure progress towards meeting sustainability commitments.

“One of our goals in developing the Trust Protocol is to give brands and retailers greater confidence when including US cotton in their sourcing mix,” explains executive director Ken Burton. “Participating brands and retailers will now be able to demonstrate measurable progress in reducing their environmental footprint and in achieving sustainability targets.”

Sustainability progress is underpinned by sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification. By working with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and Control Union Certifications North America, the Trust Protocol enables brands and retailers to better track the cotton entering their supply chain.

Brands who become members of the Trust Protocol will have access to aggregate year-over-year data on water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon and land-use efficiency.

“At Levi Strauss & Co, the quality and sustainability of the cotton we use is critical to our business and important to our customers. We are deeply committed to sourcing sustainable cotton and reducing water usage, carbon emissions, and chemical usage,” says Liza Schillo, senior manager, global sustainability integration, Levi Strauss & Co and Trust Protocol board member. “We are therefore in strong support of the introduction of standards that champion sustainably grown cotton and drive wider adoption over the long-term of sustainable cultivation practices.”

The Trust Protocol complements existing sustainability programmes and is designed from the ground up to fit the unique cotton mass-growing environment of the United States.

Earlier this year, it was added to Textile Exchange’s list of 36 preferred fibres and materials that more than 170 participating brands and retailers can select from as part of Textile Exchange’s Material Change Index programme.

Over the past 35 years, the US has made significant improvements in growing cotton responsibly. To continue the progress, the Trust Protocol aims to have more than half of all US cotton production included in the programme by 2025.

“Achieving a transition towards agricultural sustainability requires broad public and private partnerships and a vital part of my work at The Nature Conservancy includes looking at ways to collaborate with key agricultural stakeholders,” says Dr Kris Johnson, deputy director of agriculture, The Nature Conservancy, North American Region and US Cotton Trust Protocol board member.

“Informed by science-based targets, the Trust Protocol provides evidence of and encourages continuous improvements in US cotton production.”