More than a year after becoming the first denim mill to use Oritain’s cotton tracing technology, Cone Denim is reaffirming its commitment to responsible sourcing. The mill extended its partnership with Oritain across its global platform to further support customers in light of the recently enacted Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which prevents any materials or goods that have been wholly or partially mined, produced, or manufactured in the Xinjiang region of the People Republic of China from entering the U.S., was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in December. Amidst the passing of this bill, Cone states that customers can be assured with scientific confidence that its products do not contain any cotton from prohibited regions.
Up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other minorities are believed to be held captive in internment camps and prisons or compelled to pick cotton as part of a labor-transfer scheme to minimize the Uyghur population density in Xinjiang.
In working with Oritain, Cone Denim is able to verify that all samples analyzed across its operations in China and Mexico are compliant. Zero samples were identified as coming from a restricted risk area, which include Xinjiang, Syria, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Product can be tested at any point in the supply chain to verify origin claims.
To-date, Oritain has mapped more than 90 percent of the world’s cotton and used the technology to ensure that its products do not contain any cotton from prohibited regions.
Oritain’s auditing methods combine forensic science and statistics to detect naturally occurring elements in the cotton itself, eliminating the need for additional foreign tracers such as spray or particles. Soil composition and other environmental factors reveal details of about the origin of the cotton, or the “Origin Fingerprint.” Once Origin Fingerprints are created, they cannot be tampered with, replicated or destroyed, ensuring that its origin claims are accurate. The technology and process for verification provides documentable transparency that is admissible in a court of law.
“Through our partnership with Oritain, we can provide scientific verification of cotton origin as well as periodic audit results that prove our claims to be true and that are admissible in a court of law,” said Steve Maggard, Cone Denim president. “Accountability is key in Cone’s commitment to respecting human rights. We have been taking necessary steps prior to the passing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and we will continue to lead the industry in these crucial efforts.”
Oritain was founded in 2008 and has picked up steam in recent years as transparency demands escalate across all types of fiber and products. It provides tracing services across industries like fiber, food and pharmaceuticals to verify products’ origins, and in July partnered with industrial hemp pioneer Panda Biotech to develop fully traceable hemp fiber. Under the agreement, Panda Biotech will process premium, textile-grade, cottonized natural hemp fiber for industrial and consumer products, and its first facility in the Texas city of Wichita Falls will be operational in mid-2022.