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US Cotton Trust Protocol and BASF’s E3 Make Sustainable Leaps Forward

Traceability in the cotton supply chain has grown in importance in today’s push for transparency and two of the sector’s key players are making strides toward achieving that objective.

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has been approved as a standard for sustainable cotton by Siegelklarheit, an initiative of the German federal government.

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol successfully passed Siegelklarheit´s assessment system and as a result, members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) can use the Trust Protocol as another standard to calculate their share of sustainable cotton. By helping consumers better understand environmental and social labels, Siegelklarheit aims to help them make more sustainable purchasing decisions.

PST was founded in October 2014, with the mission to improve social and ecological conditions within global textile supply chains. It orientates its work on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and on international agreements and guidelines that define the principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability and the framework for corporate responsibility.

Traceability in the cotton supply chain has grown in importance and two of the sector’s key players are making strides toward the goal.
Members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles can now use the Trust Protocol as a standard to calculate their share of sustainable cotton. Courtesy

“Members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles work together to achieve substantial social and ecological improvements in their global supply chains,” said Jürgen Janssen, head of the PST secretariat. “This also includes the production of raw materials and thus the cultivation and processing of cotton. In the Textiles Partnership, we advocate for transparent and traceable criteria in the certification of sustainable cotton. We are pleased that the Trust Protocol has successfully passed the audit by Siegelklarheit.”

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The PST has developed an implementation framework and reporting format for corporate due diligence. In the context of this format, PST member companies also indicate how much cotton they source and how much of it is sustainable or organic cotton, certified by recognized standards.

Besides U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, these include Better Cotton standard, the Australian myBMP standard, Cotton made in Africa, Fairtrade Cotton and CottonConnect. The Trust Protocol provides quantifiable, verifiable goals and measurement, and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics: land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. It is also offers members article-level supply chain transparency through the Protocol Consumption Management Solution.

“We are thrilled to have received this recognition of being a sustainable cotton standard by the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and proud to have passed Siegelklarheit’s rigorous assessment,” said Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. “The Trust Protocol’s vision is to set a new standard in sustainable cotton production where full transparency is a reality and continuous improvement to reduce our environmental footprint is the central goal. We commit to ensuring the protection and preservation of the planet, using the most sustainable and responsible techniques.”

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, recognized by Textile Exchange and Forum for the Future, and part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Cotton 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge, Cotton 2040 and Cotton Up initiatives. It has also been recognized and published in the ITC Standards Map.

e3 Sustainable Cotton

Traceability in the cotton supply chain has grown in importance and two of the sector’s key players are making strides toward the goal.
Sustainable measures Courtesy

BASF’s e3 Sustainable Cotton program on Monday announced unprecedented growth, with more than 900 growers enrolled in the program by registering cotton bales from their 2021 growing season, a 25 percent increase in enrollment from the previous year.

“We are very encouraged by the growth we saw this year,” said Rachel Walters, BASF regional grower and channel marketing manager for seeds. “The e3 Cotton program adds value for growers, the environment and the end user, and our enrollment numbers prove the future is bright for the sustainable cotton industry.”

Growers who are part of the e3 Sustainable Cotton program commit to tracking eight sustainability measures on all eligible cotton acres, ranging from water use and pesticide management to soil conservation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Through a series of digital platforms, the cotton they grow can be traced from an individual cotton bale in their field all the way to the end consumer.

“I’m excited to join the e3 cotton program to further the efforts of sustainable cotton and I’m always looking for ways to be a better steward of the land,” said Chris King, Stoneville grower and first-time e3 cotton program member from Georgia.

Earlier this year, the e3 Cotton program announced a collaboration with the UN-hosted Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network for a series of events in New York City throughout 2022 and 2023. E3 will join industry stakeholders, UN representatives and news media to explore how the fashion and lifestyle industries are positioned to collaborate and engage on the Sustainable Development Goals.