With the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol’s launch underway this summer, the National Cotton Council was very pleased to learn that the industry’s sustainability initiative is now included in the Textile Exchange’s list of preferred fibers/materials.
Why is this inclusion significant?
■ The Trust Protocol, which has a goal of confirming and increasing awareness that U.S. cotton producers are farming responsibly, now is one of 36 fibers/materials in Textile Exchange’s (TE) Material Change Index program. That means that the Trust Protocol provides another sustainable cotton option for TE’s 170-plus participating brands and retailers.
The TE is a global nonprofit committed to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile value chain. The exchange defines a preferred fiber or material as one which results in improved environmental and/or social sustainability outcomes/impacts compared to conventional production.
As a preferred cotton fiber, the Trust Protocol joins a global portfolio of sustainable production initiatives that includes the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Made in Africa, Fairtrade Cotton, Organic Cotton, the REEL Cotton Program, the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification program, and Recycled Cotton.
Any other developments?
■ We also are pleased that Control Union Certifications North America (CUC) was selected to implement an independent, third-party verification program for the Trust Protocol. The CUC’s agriculture standards, experience and impeccable reputation will provide brands, retailers and consumers assurance that the Trust Protocol is meeting the highest standards of sustainability.
The CUC has certified more than 150 programs worldwide, including working as a key partner in the early development and piloting phases of Field to Market’s Impact Claim Verification Protocol.
CUC auditors in the United States have a long history of working with corn, soy and canola on standards focused on land conversion, irrigation systems, water management, integrated pest management, soil protection, crop rotation and conservation practices.
U.S. cotton producers enrolling in the Trust Protocol will complete a self-assessment of farming practices and share their field data through Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform. The CUC will verify the Trust Protocol annual data that will highlight key sustainability metrics. These include land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
What about Protocol enrollment?
■ To date, about 300 U.S. cotton producers participated in the pilot phase, but enrollment efforts are being ramped up with the Trust Protocol’s official launch this summer. More information, including an informative question and answer section, is at https://TrustUsCotton.org — where producers also can enroll. Questions can be directed to Trust Protocol Executive Director Ken Burton at email@example.com.
The NCC encourages all U.S. cotton producers to enroll in this voluntary sustainability program. In a period of greater supply chain scrutiny and a growing demand for transparency, the Trust Protocol will bring quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to the issue of sustainable U.S. cotton production. It also will drive continuous improvement in key sustainability metrics.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.