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Building Full Supply Chain Transparency, from Farm to Finished Fashion – Sourcing Journal

Where you source materials matters more today than ever before. Consumers have set high standards; they demand quality, consistency and materials that are ethical and sustainable. Understanding this demand, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has become the world’s first sustainable cotton fiber standard to offer its members full supply chain transparency from farm to finished product.

The Trust Protocol will enable this transparency through its upcoming Protocol Credit Management System (PCMS). The PCMS uses a powerful combination of the TrustUSCotton.org platform and the TextileGenesis™ platform to deliver full supply chain transparency. It uses TextileGenesis’ blockchain technology to record and verify the movement of U.S. cotton fiber along the entire supply chain. Starting from the initial fiber sale, every transaction recorded in the PCMS is double verified. PCMS deployment is expected in late June 2021, with Trust Protocol brand and retail member pilot trials beginning shortly thereafter.

The PCMS will provide critical information about Trust Protocol cotton throughout the member’s supply chain. Once brands and retailers have received their finished products, they can claim data-backed, verified Trust Protocol credits based on their individual consumption. The total number of Protocol Credits a brand has consumed during the Protocol Year will determine its environmental performance data, which the brand or retail member can communicate through its own sustainability claims.

“Today, having a holistic view of every step throughout the supply chain is imperative for brands and retailers,” said Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. “We are proud to use comprehensive data, thorough verification, and innovative blockchain technology to address this need. The Trust Protocol aims to set a new standard for more sustainable and trackable cotton production.”

A recent U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol survey shows the issue’s importance to apparel companies, revealing that 69 percent of brands and retailers believe the pandemic has emphasized the importance of environmentally friendly products to customers—with 61 percent also noting an increased demand for sustainable products.

Additionally, consumers want transparency about their cotton products; demanding assurance that the products they purchase are as sustainable as brands claim. In the research, 63 percent of brands and retailers stated the pandemic had a positive impact on their company’s proactive investment in sustainability, including 42 percent who said they’re focused on sourcing raw materials more sustainably.

The Trust Protocol is a system for more responsibly grown cotton that underpins sustainability progress through real, measurable data direct from U.S cotton fields. Data has already shown that U.S. cotton production has used 79 percent less water and 54 percent less energy, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, all while reducing land use by 42 percent over the past 35 years. The adoption of practices such as minimal tillage, GPS and sensor-driven precision agriculture, and the growing of winter cover crops have further improved soil health, reducing loss and erosion by 37 percent per acre and increasing soil carbon levels.

With this impressive record on sustainability, the Trust Protocol is committed to continuously improving in six key areas including water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon and land-use efficiency to help growers meet targets in line with the U.N. Sustainability Development Goals for 2025. The Trust Protocol is one of the only cotton initiatives that has agreed to measurable, third-party verified sustainability targets, which means more responsible production and consumption.

“For sustainability to be meaningful, we understand that the textile supply chain must demonstrate continuous improvement and data collection throughout the entire process,” said Adams. “The Trust Protocol provides the transparency necessary to give members the critical assurances they need about the cotton entering their supply chain.”

Trust Protocol brand and retailer members will be provided access to aggregate sustainability data based on a 120 question self-assessment questionnaire that participating growers must complete. In addition, brand and retailer members will receive customized reporting based on national environmental metrics for key sustainability indicators.

Longer term, as enrollment in the Trust Protocol grows, brand and retailer members will receive aggregate, year-over-year data derived from growers. This data-based approach gives brands and retailers the critical assurances needed to show that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is more sustainably grown.

By providing critical assurances about the origins of cotton, the Trust Protocol’s central purpose is to give its members the ability to source confidently. This mission lets brands, businesses and consumers build trust in the cotton they buy, sell and wear for today and tomorrow.

Become a member today at TrustUSCotton.org.

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