Gap joined the protocol and Textile Exchange’s 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge as part of its integrated sustainability strategy and to help achieve a commitment to use only 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton by 2025.
The Trust Protocol will help Gap Inc. meet this goal by providing verified data on the sustainability practices used on U.S. cotton farms. Participating cotton growers will benefit from data-driven insights and best practices from across the industry, as well as a stronger connection to brands asking for sustainably grown cotton. The Trust Protocol opened for membership in October and provides brands and retailers with the critical assurance that the cotton in their supply chain is more responsibly grown.
“Continuous improvement is important to Gap Inc., which is why we have decided to begin sourcing more sustainable fiber through the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol,” said Alice Hartley, director of product sustainability for Gap Inc. “As part of our commitment to address climate change by aligning with the best science and industry practices, we have ambitious targets across metrics to lower carbon emissions and preserve precious natural resources like water. As an American company with purpose-led brands committed to sustainability, joining the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol makes perfect sense. With two thirds of U.S. cotton not using any irrigation at all, this allows us to further our commitment to sustainable cotton and enables us to support U.S. cotton growers.”
The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol verifies sustainability progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification. Member brands like Gap Inc. have access to aggregate year-over-year data in six areas: water use; greenhouse gas emissions; energy use; soil carbon, soil loss and land use efficiency.
“Gap Inc.’s brands are in every household, including my own, and I am personally honored it has chosen to work with us because it’s a global company that takes sustainability seriously,” Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, said. “Gap Inc. has made significant strides since setting sustainability goals, and the Trust Protocol’s farm-level data will help it in its mission to improve its impact and protect our natural resources. By signing onto the Trust Protocol, Gap Inc. will support our shared mission to educate U.S. growers around the most sustainable growing practices and support grower enrollment.”
Cone Denim also announced its membership in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, furthering its commitment to sustainability and transparency with continued investment in a verifiable supply chain.
This follows Cone’s recently announced partnership with Oritain, whose technology uses forensic science and statistics to detect naturally occurring elements in the cotton itself to verify growth origin.
“The values and accountability of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol align with and complement Cone Denim’s ongoing sustainability initiatives, including our pledge to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and commitment to source 80 percent verifiably sustainable cotton by 2025,” Cone Denim president Steve Maggard said. “Cone has used more than 261 million pounds of U.S. grown cotton over the last five years across our global manufacturing platform. The U.S. remains a key supply source for our cotton and the efforts and leadership of the Trust Protocol further increase the importance of cotton from this region in our journey as a responsible manufacturer and supply partner.”
As a Trust Protocol member, Cone Denim will be sourcing from participating growers and helping to drive continuous improvement among six key elements of sustainability including land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
Mills and manufacturers who become members have access to the Trust Protocol credit system to validate consumption of cotton and associated credit.
The Trust Protocol works together with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and Control Union Certifications North America, and is on the Textile Exchange’s list of 36 preferred fibers and materials from which more than 170 brands and retailers can select through Textile Exchange’s Material Change Index program. It is also part of Cotton 2040 and the CottonUp guide.
Gap Inc. has also accepted the Textile Exchange 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge. It is the vision of the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge that more than 50 percent of the world’s cotton is converted to more sustainable growing methods.
Brands and retailers joining the challenge and committing to source more sustainable cotton can choose from Textile Exchange’s list of recognized organic and sustainable cotton initiatives that have the ability to increase the income of smallholder farmers, eliminate highly hazardous pesticides, eliminate or reduce the amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer used, reduce water use and improve water quality and soil health. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol was recognized as one such initiative in April.
Gap noted that it began sourcing from more sustainably grown cotton programs in 2016 and within three years, 57 percent of the cotton in its products came from these sources.