Cotton Incorporated, the research and promotion company for cotton, continues its long-term commitment to advancing sustainability through research and information dissemination. Its most recent benchmarking tools, Cotton’s Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), were used to help complete two key sustainability indicators: the Field to Market National Report on Agricultural Sustainability; and the Higg Index developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
Last year, Cotton Incorporated completed a two-year data-collection and assessment project that established an up-to-date and accurate global baseline for cotton’s environmental impact. The holistic approach resulted in the world’s most comprehensive sustainability data set on cotton, which is intended to better inform key decision-makers in the global textile supply chain as well as serve as a guide for future research that will lead to even greater sustainability gains moving forward. This research is proving to be useful in providing a more accurate characterization of cotton’s improving footprint in both agricultural production and textile processing.
“Sustainability is not a fixed point, but a continuum of measurable improvement,” explains J. Berrye Worsham, President and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. “As an organization, Cotton Incorporated recognizes that sharing information and best practices across the supply chain is the best and most effective means of making and measuring sustainable gains.” Worsham also stresses the importance of collaboration: “We are proud to be active members and contributors to the work of such well-respected groups as Field to Market and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which share our values of transparency and vision with respect to sustainability.”
Agricultural production data from Cotton’s Life Cycle Inventory was incorporated into a recent study by Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. The organization’s National Report on Agricultural Sustainability revealed that U.S. agriculture (corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice, and potatoes) demonstrated measurable improvement in sustainability metrics over the past 30 years. Specifically, the study finds that cotton improved on all measures of resource efficiency, with decreases in per-pound lint land use (-30%), soil erosion (-68%), irrigation water applied (-75%), energy use (-36%), and greenhouse gas emissions (-30%).
Output from Cotton's LCI also helped improve the Materials Sustainability Index module of the Higg Index, released last week by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. “As with the Field to Market report, cotton’s ongoing gains are reflected in the Higg Index, which scores cotton as one of the top fibers from a raw materials point of view,” says Michele Wallace, Associate Director, Product Integrity for Cotton Incorporated.
Wallace stresses that while all fibers have unique sustainability challenges, the textile processing phase presents a unified opportunity for improvement. “Textile processing has a major impact on a finished product’s footprint,” says Wallace. “To address this, Cotton Incorporated focuses a significant amount of research on alternative processes, technical innovations, and the dissemination of that information to the industry at large.” Wallace cites the “Great Ideas In Cotton” conference in Hong Kong this past May as an example of the company’s outreach.
About Cotton Incorporated
Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.
About Field to Market
Field to Market, The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is a diverse initiative that joins producers, agribusinesses, food companies, conservation organizations and university and agency partners seeking to create sustainable outcomes for agriculture. Field to Market is facilitated by The Keystone Center, an independent, non-profit organization specializing in collaborative decision-making processes for environment, energy, and health policy issues. Analyses for the report were conducted by IHS Global Insight. For more information, visit www.fieldtomarket.org
About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition:
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, representing more than one-third of the global apparel and footwear industries, was formed by sustainability leaders and leading environmental and social organizations to address current social and environmental challenges. Recognizing that improved supply chain practices are both a business imperative and an opportunity, the Coalition seeks to lead a shared vision of industry supply chain sustainability through the creation and use of the Higg Index. In measuring and evaluating apparel and footwear product sustainability performance through the Higg Index, the Coalition aims to spotlight priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. www.apparelcoalition.or
Contact: James Pruden 212.413.8306