Guide aims to drive sustainable cotton

17 May 2017

A guide designed to promote best practice in sourcing cotton is in development.

The guide, which will launch in October, is one of several tools being developed by Cotton 2040, an initiative that brings together leading international brands and retailers, cotton standards, existing industry initiatives and other stakeholders across the supply chain.

Other tools will feature insights from companies that have taken a pioneering role in sustainable cotton sourcing.

The tools, which are currently being tested and piloted, also help companies build a clear business case for sustainable sourcing to help drive internal engagement of procurement teams and other stakeholders.

Cotton 2040 members include M&S and Target as well as the Better Cotton Initiative, Cotton Made in Africa (CMiA), the Textile Exchange, the Fairtrade Foundation and the London College of Fashion.

Cotton 2040 said it aims to increase uptake of sustainable cotton from the industry from 13% to beyond 30% from 2020.

The project has also identified as priorities scaling up cotton recycling and circularity, building greater visibility and transparency throughout the cotton value chain and across standards and creating a cross-industry forum.

Cotton 2040 said working groups would be developing best practice across these areas over the next two to three years in order to share them with the wider industry.

In its report Cotton 2040 said difficulties with traceability of cotton across the supply chain create significant barriers to creating a more sustainable crop.

It said that often brands and retailers lack certainty about where a given unit of cotton comes from.

“The lack of traceability back to farm/plantation level makes it difficult for brands and retailers to understand how much of a positive impact sustainable cotton sourcing is having throughout the supply chain,” it added.

Sally Uren, CEO of Forum for the Future, which convened the initiative, said: “Past debate around sustainable cotton standards and industry initiatives has at times been polarising, but we know to make effective progress we need to work together.”

Leslie Johnston, executive director of C&A Foundation, which is supporting the initiative, said: “Cotton 2040 is not a new platform, but a smart way to accelerate the many good initiatives out there working to mainstream more sustainable cotton.

“Together, we can be more than the sum of our parts and jointly tackle the effects of one of the world’s thirstiest crops.”

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