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Better Cotton Asks FTC to Broaden Green Guides Criteria

The Better Cotton Initiative has responded to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides by asking that an agricultural context be considered to establish what might be viewed as progress on the ground, i.e. on the actual farms.

Better Cotton maintains that the FTC uses too few methodologies  to asses different issues like lifecycle analysis (LCA) or product environmental footprints (PEF). According to the organization, which is the largest cotton sustainability initiative with offices in London and Geneva, there is no single set of criteria broad enough to do accurate assessments across the board.

LCA, for example, raises challenges when applied in an agricultural context. Were it to be adopted in the revised guides, some of the most trusted and widely used sustainability schemes would no longer be able to provide environmental marketing claims for members.

Better Cotton has authored the Better Cotton Standard System (BCSS) which has six components. One is the Claims Framework through which Better Cotton provides support to eligible members to communicate their commitment to the group in a transparent and credible way. Better Cotton has 2,500 members in 26 countries globally. Over the 20-21 cotton growing season, 2.9 million farmers received training in sustainable farming practices.

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Transparency in the organization is key and includes financial investment in Better Cotton to support  farm-level programs seeking social, environmental and economic improvements for farming communities and individual farmers.

The FTC is a bi-partisan agency of the U.S. government created to champion the interests of American consumers. It issued the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, the Green Guides, in 1992, to make sure product sustainability claims made by companies were accurate and substantiated.

Better Cotton supports the FTC’s revised guides for the way they cover general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims, how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers and how consumers are likely to  interpret certain claims and how these can be substantiated.