Adidas is one of the brands involved with Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced (YESS) © Adidas
Adidas is one of the brands involved with Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced (YESS) © Adidas

Brands say YESS to slavery-free cotton

7 September 2016

Brands including Adidas and Hudson’s Bay have signed up to a new scheme that aims to eradicate slavery in cotton supply chains.

Launched by the Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced (YESS) enables yarn spinners to identify and eliminate cotton produced with forced labour and assists the verification of producers who use fair labour practices.

YESS will help firms comply with anti-slavery regulations and establish an industry-wide traceability approach, managing a global list of verified spinners.

The programme will pilot in India and Bangladesh, which have numerous spinning mills and are highly affected by labour abuses.

YESS will work directly with spinning mills. As the mills are located in the middle of the supply chain they are well-positioned to identify cotton that has been produced using forced labour.

By establishing a training, assessment, and verification process, the initiative hopes to prevent such cotton making its way further into the supply chain.

The scheme also plans to address the issue of forced labour among young women in spinning mills in southern India.

Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said: “It is an open secret that the garment and textile supply chain is rife with forced labor and other human rights abuses. However, it is not inevitable that this should be the case.

“The YESS initiative represents an honourable effort to clean up opaque parts of the system.”

The RSN believes YESS will become a useful tool for compliance for companies that are increasingly required by law, or pressured by consumers, to report on their actions to address modern slavery and human trafficking.

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