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OTA, Textile Exchange to fortify organic textile industry
23
Jan '16
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Textile Exchange (TE) have announced an important collaboration to strengthen the North American organic textile industry's public policy influence and public relations efforts.

The two groups recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on legislative advocacy, public outreach and consumer education initiatives, OTA said in a press release. The agreement was signed in conjunction with the recent formation of OTA's Fibre Council, which was created to provide a cohesive voice across fibre categories within OTA and to grow the North American organic fibre sector overall.

According to OTA's 2015 Organic Industry Survey, US organic fibre sales were the fastest-growing non-food sector, reaching $1.1 billion in 2014, up 18 per cent from the previous year. The leading organic fibre is cotton. In 2014, US growers planted organic cotton on 18,234 acres—the largest number of US acres devoted to organic cotton since 1995. According to Textile Exchange's 2014 Organic Market Report, global sales of organic cotton products reached an estimated $15.7 billion in 2014, up 10 per cent from 2013.

“This is just the beginning of an exciting collaboration that will propel the organic fibre sector to the next level. People want to make organic a bigger part of their lifestyle, but they are often unaware of all the ways that organic fibre can contribute to human and planetary wellness, as well as social justice,” said Marci Zaroff, Founder of Under the Canopy. Both an OTA and Textile Exchange Board member, Zaroff was among those instrumental in submitting a petition to OTA to form the Fibre Council, and now serves as its chair.

A major goal of this new partnership will be to boost outreach to North American consumers on the benefits of organic fibre and textiles, particularly the environmental and social benefits of growing and processing them. Much of the current demand for organic cotton currently comes from manufacturers and brands. With authenticity and transparency as key goals, brands are trying to position themselves to be responsible stewards —becoming more sustainable in their supply chains and more relevant in their core messaging.

Under the agreement, OTA and TE will work together on legislative advocacy initiatives undertaken by the Fibre Council, advance organic fibre market messaging to consumers, promote awareness and education on both GOTS and the Organic Content Standard (OCS) and certification, develop and participate in media efforts to facilitate awareness and knowledge related to organic fibres, and develop and participate in various industry initiatives such as workshops, seminars and webinars, the release said. (SH)

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