Measures and Verifies Sustainability Commitments

There has never been a greater expectation for sustainability and transparency, as brands and retailers around the globe are being held accountable for every step of their supply chain – from ensuring responsible labor and sustainable growing practices to delivering a circular lifecycle. While U.S. cotton is widely recognized for its quality, the industry has never had the grower-level data in one spot to support its sustainability credentials.

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has been approved as a standard for sustainable cotton by Siegelklarheit, an initiative of the German Federal Government (Partnership for Sustainable Textiles). The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was founded in October 2014, with the mission to improve social and ecological conditions within global textile supply chains. 

  • Orientates its work on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and on international agreements and guidelines that define the principles of social, environmental, and economic sustainability and the framework for corporate responsibility
  • Provides an implementation framework and reporting format for corporate due diligence
  • Members indicate how much cotton they source and how much of it is sustainable or organic cotton, certified by recognized standards

Aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Trust Protocol brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to more sustainable cotton production and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics – land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy efficiency. 

The Trust Protocol underpins and verifies U.S. cotton’s sustainability progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification. Choosing the Trust Protocol cotton will provide brands and retailers the critical assurances they need that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is more sustainably grown with lower environmental and social risk. 

Launched in the summer of 2020, the Trust Protocol is voluntary for U.S. cotton producers and allows us to report on six key sustainability metrics from the farm-level. Firmly rooted in their established principles of continuous improvement, this initiative will help drive all U.S. cotton production towards their 2025 sustainability targets and beyond. 

The Trust Protocol is aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals as well as the G7 Fashion Pact, the UNFCCC Fashion Industry Charter, the Sustainable Cotton Challenge and the Forum for the Future: Cotton 2040 goals. 

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change is based on science based measurement and feedback.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, and the intention is for governments to achieve their SDG targets by 2030. The Trust Protocol contributes to the following goals through its achievements and commitments:

Other Programs the Trust Protocol has Joined or is Accredited By

Sustainable Cotton Challenge

The Sustainable Cotton Challenge serves as a cornerstone for change in the apparel and textile industry by encouraging brands and retailers to commit to source 100 percent of their cotton from the most sustainable sources by the year 2025.

  • Increase uptake of sustainable cotton by promoting participation in sustainable cotton growing programs like the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®
  • Reduce water use and improve water quality and soil health

Forum for the Future: Cotton 2040 Goals

Cotton 2040 aims to create a resilient cotton industry in an increasingly climate-disrupted world by bringing together leading international brands and retailers, sustainable cotton standards, existing industry initiatives, traders, processors, farmers and other stakeholders across the value chain.

  • Increase uptake of sustainable cotton by promoting uptake of the Trust Protocol
  • Better traceability via the pilot with Oritain for forensic tracking of origin fingerprint
  • Building resilience for millions of smallholder cotton farming through capacity building in developing nations

ITC Standards Map 

A United Nations initiative, the ITC Standards Map is a roadmap to sustainable production, consumption and trade that helps navigate the constantly moving landscape of sustainability standards.

  • World’s largest database for sustainability standards
  • Offers users access to comprehensive, verified, and transparent information on over 300 standards for environmental protection, worker and labor rights, economic development, quality, food safety, and business ethics
  • Organizations included within the standards map must address at least one pillar of sustainable development, and/or focus on ethics and quality management

Other Pledges the Trust Protocol is Aligned With

G7 Fashion Pact

The Fashion Pact is a global coalition of companies in the fashion and textile industry all committed to a common core of environmental goals in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans.

  • Science-based targets to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees by reducing GHG emissions by a target of 39%
  • Restore biodiversity through integrated pest management, soil quality and water availability
  • Protect the oceans through stopping plastic use from cotton, and integrated pest management

UNFCCC Fashion Industry Charter 

The charter contains the vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and was launched at COP24 in 2018 and renewed at COP26 in 2021.

  • Commit to 39% aggregate GHG emission reductions
  • Commit to prioritizing materials with low climate-impact without negatively affecting other sustainability aspects—the Trust Protocol cotton is among the lowest of climate impact textiles
  • Commit to pursue energy efficiency across the value chain with a 15% target decrease
  • Build strategic alignment with other brands by collaborating across the value chain

Episode 9 of Smarter Conversations

Sustainable cotton production for biodiversity protection

This episode explores how sustainable practices in cotton production are helping to promote biodiversity. Sledge Taylor and Marshall Hardwick explain why, as cotton growers, biodiversity is important to them and why growers care about it. Topics explored include regenerative agriculture, conservation tillage, habitat preservation, cover crops and pesticide use. 

More Information About Sustainable Commitments