Cotton fiber represented by the Cotton LEADS™ program, which promotes the responsible production practices of cotton growers in Australia and the United States, is deemed 100 percent bio-based amid changes to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) BioPreferred Program guidelines. The technical innovation of cotton growers in Australia and the United States qualifies Cotton LEADS™ cotton as a 100 percent bio-based ingredient for textile and nonwoven products and is included in USDA's online BioPreferred Catalog.
The BioPreferred Program's goal is to increase the purchase and use of bio-based products while spurring economic development, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farm commodities. Additionally, the increased development, purchase and use of bio-based products is intended to reduce reliance on petroleum, increase the use of renewable agricultural resources and contribute to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts.
The 2014 farm law expanded the USDA's BioPreferred Program's initial scope to "promote bio-based products that apply an innovative approach to growing, harvesting, sourcing, procuring, processing, manufacturing, or application of bio-based products regardless of the date of entry into the marketplace."
Cotton LEADS™ cotton easily met the BioPreferred Program's new stipulation for innovation, due to the manner in which cotton growers in Australia and the United States approach and operate their businesses. The cotton industries of both countries are well established, well-regulated, transparent and committed to improvement. But it is the growers' self-investment into research programs and the willingness to embrace new technologies and techniques that continues to yield high volumes of quality cotton as well as significant and measurable environmental gains.
The Cotton LEADS™ program was launched in October 2013 to increase awareness of the transparency, traceability and ongoing environmental gains made by cotton growers in the founding countries of Australia and the United States. The program has attracted more than 240 industry partners who acknowledge Cotton LEADS™ cotton as part of their sustainable sourcing strategies.
Cotton LEADS™ is a joint program of the Australian cotton industry and the Cotton Foundation. Its founding members are Cotton Australia, the National Cotton Council of America, Cotton Council International and Cotton Incorporated. The program is designed to raise awareness of the responsible growing practices and commitment to continuous improvement among cotton producers in the member countries. More information on Cotton LEADS™ can be found at www.cottonleads.org.