Last year, Cotton Incorporated completed a two-year data-collection and assessment project that established an up-to-date and accurate global baseline for cotton's environmental impact.
The holistic approach resulted in the world's most comprehensive sustainability data set on cotton, which is intended to better inform key decision-makers in the global textile supply chain as well as serve as a guide for future research that will lead to even greater sustainability gains moving forward.
This research is proving to be useful in providing a more accurate characterization of cotton's improving footprint in both agricultural production and textile processing.
"Sustainability is not a fixed point, but a continuum of measurable improvement," explains J. Berrye Worsham, President and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. "As an organization, Cotton Incorporated recognizes that sharing information and best practices across the supply chain is the best and most effective means of making and measuring sustainable gains." Worsham also stresses the importance of collaboration: "We are proud to be active members and contributors to the work of such well-respected groups as Field to Market and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which share our values of transparency and vision with respect to sustainability."
Agricultural production data from Cotton's Life Cycle Inventory was incorporated into a recent study by Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
The organization's National Report on Agricultural Sustainability revealed that U.S. agriculture (corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice, and potatoes) demonstrated measurable improvement in sustainability metrics over the past 30 years. Specifically, the study finds that cotton improved on all measures of resource efficiency, with decreases in per-pound lint land use (-30%), soil erosion (-68%), irrigation water applied (-75%), energy use (-36%), and greenhouse gas emissions (-30%).
Output from Cotton's LCI also helped improve the Materials Sustainability Index module of the Higg Index, released last week by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. "As with the Field to Market report, cotton's ongoing gains are reflected in the Higg Index, which scores cotton as one of the top fibers from a raw materials point of view," says Michele Wallace, Associate Director, Product Integrity for Cotton Incorporated.