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ICAC releases findings of cotton life-cycle project
Oct '12
Those who attack the cotton industry for its perceived impact on the environment will need to have their facts straight, thanks to a major research project undertaken by Cotton Incorporated: a life-cycle assessment (LCA) for cotton.

That LCA was a major focus of the First Open Session of International Cotton Advisory Committee’s (ICAC) 71st Plenary Meeting, which took place on Oct. 8 in Interlaken, Switzerland. Delivered Berrye Worsham, CEO of Cotton Incorporated, the presentation outlined how the LCA was developed, as well as some of its top findings.

Worsham emphasized that Cotton Incorporated's leadership went through the exhaustive, two-year LCA process to determine exactly what cotton's footprint was, not just what could be used to combat misconceptions about the fiber's environmental impact. The results show that cotton has made great strides over the last 30 years, including reductions in:

Land usage: 30%

Soil loss: 68%

Water usage: 75%

Energy usage: 36%

Greenhouse gases: 30%

Cotton Incorporated has both the means and intention of doing another LCA in the short-term future -- within the next few years -- to continue to monitor and document the improvements being made, Worsham said.

"Cotton is doing well, but we know we can do better," he said. "The key is continual progress. This LCA was all about measurement and improvement, and you can't make measurable progress if you don't know where you started."

International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)

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