Better Cotton Plans to Use Better Metrics, Transparency to Help Cut Emissions

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by | Dec 14, 2021

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(Credit: Pixabay)

By using enhanced metrics to track sustainability progress at the farm level, Better Cotton plans to cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2030.

The organization also plans to develop platforms for physical traceability that will allow retailers to make better sustainability statements related to the cotton content of their products. Better Cotton says the tools will ensure long-term success of the goals, and overall it aims to improve soil health while using less water and fewer fertilizers and pesticides.

The goal builds on the Better Cotton Standard System, in which the company emphasizes supply chain transparency and accountability.

Better Cotton says the organization and its partners have trained more than 2.5 million farmers in 25 countries and have raised $131 million to fund capacity building and other field-level activities. The investment is expected to grow to $165.4 million in 2021-22.

According data from production seasons 2015-16 through 2017-18, Better Cotton says its sustainability efforts have led to 19% lower greenhouse gas emissions per metric ton of lint than comparable production in China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey. During the 2019-2020 season the organization says its farmers in India, where most are licensed to grow its cotton, used 10% less water, 13% fewer fertilizers and 23% fewer pesticides compared to farmers in the same region who were not with the company.

Globally cotton production accounts for 220 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year and 8.2 million metric tons of chemicals and a has a water footprint of 8.2 trillion cubic feet, according to a report by the Revelator.

“This is a pledge for Better Cotton farmers and a stake in the ground for the global cotton sector,” Better Cotton CEO Alan McClay says. “We will also help open doors to markets, and through our metrics, feed back information on the results farmers are achieving, so they can see the benefits of sustainable practices and continuously improve the way they farm.”

Other agricultural-based products have been implementing similar sustainability initiatives. Tea company ekaterra has introduced practices like regenerative agriculture in an attempt to reach net zero by 2030 and Starbucks also is improving farming practices in an attempt to produce net zero coffee.

The Soil Health Institute and Ralph Lauren partnered on another cotton initiative, the US Regenerative Cotton Fund, which aims to eliminate 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in cotton production in the United States.

Better Cotton says the textile and fashion industry also pledged at COP26 to reach net zero by 2050 and that its 2030 strategy aligns with those goals and will set measurable metrics that could have impact on cotton production worldwide and benefit the whole industry. The fashion industry is seeking to improve transparency and emissions.


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