Solidaridad

More Companies to be Assessed in Second Sustainable Cotton Ranking

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Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF have released the list of companies that will be assessed in the new round of their Sustainable Cotton Ranking to be published in October 2017. The second edition of the ranking will include major companies from all continents, including from countries such as China and Brazil, and online companies such as Zalando and Amazon. As in 2016, the ranking will score companies on their policy, traceability and actual uptake of sustainable cotton.

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On the Target List

This year the scope of the ranking will be broadened. The target list of companies (PDF) has been expanded to offer a more global representation of consumer-facing companies estimated to use more than 10,000 metric tons of lint cotton annually and include companies from emerging markets and online retailers.

Creating a list of the largest corporate cotton users is challenging as most companies do not publish the volumes they use in their products. PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF welcome feedback from any companies who believe their cotton use has been under or over-estimated, as well as those whose may have been omitted from the list and wish to be included.

Scoring Company Progress

The first Cotton Ranking (PDF) published in 2016 showed that the majority of companies using most cotton globally were failing to deliver on cotton sustainability, with just eight companies out of 37 showing positive progress in the ranking.

By conducting a second Cotton Ranking in 2017, PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF expect to see that more companies have taken steps forward on their sustainable cotton policies, traceability and sourcing. As transparency and accountability to customers is considered paramount by the three NGOs, only publicly available information will be used in scoring company performance. The report will be published in October 2017 so as to take into account companies’ public reporting on their 2016 performance.

Updating Market Trends

The report will also include a market update on the available supply and uptake of cotton from the main cotton sustainability standards (organic, Fairtrade, Cotton Made in Africa and Better Cotton). While around 10% of global cotton supply was grown according to one of these standards in 2014, less than a fifth of this amount was actually being bought as more sustainable cotton, with the rest being sold as conventional due to lack of demand from top brands and companies.

Notes

Cotton Ranking

The Cotton Ranking 2016 report can be downloaded here along with the briefing ‘Mind the Gap: Towards a More Sustainable Cotton Market’ (PDF) published in April 2016 which gives an overview of the market for more sustainable cotton.

Thirty-seven companies estimated globally to use the most cotton in their products were scored on their sustainable cotton policy, sourcing, and traceability. Only publicly available information was used in scoring company performance.

The Cotton Ranking focuses on companies rather than individual brands as, while sustainability practices can vary significantly between different brands, entire companies need to change sourcing practices in order to transform cotton production.

Cotton Globally

Cotton is grown in around 80 countries worldwide and is a key raw material for the textile industry, accounting for around 32% of all fibres used. Sustainability issues include the widespread use of pesticides, with 6.2% of global pesticide sales associated with cotton production (which uses just 2.3% of the world’s arable land), and intensive water use, with 73% of global production currently dependent on irrigation.

While many smallholder cotton farmers are driven into debt by the cost of pesticides and fertilisers, sustainable cotton production has the potential to lift farmers out of poverty by providing a more stable income and improving working conditions.

A number of sustainable cotton standards have been developed in the last 35 years, starting with Organic cotton in the 1980s, followed by Fairtrade in 2004, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) in 2005 and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2009. All provide guidance and support for farmers and seek to assure retailers and consumers that the cotton in the products they buy are being produced using sustainable farming methods.

The supply of sustainable cotton has never been greater (estimated to be at 13% of global supply in 2015) but uptake by companies, essential for mainstreaming sustainable cotton, remains low at approximately 17% of what is available.

*This story first appeared on Solidaridad Network

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Shaping Convergence in Social and Labor Assessments

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Progress in developing an industry-wide tool, website launched

It has been one year since the launch of the Social & Labor Convergence Project, an initiative led by the world’s leading manufacturers, brands, retailers, industry groups and civil society organizations. The mission of the Project is to develop a common assessment framework. The number of signatories has tripled since the launch. This means today already over 95 signatories support the mission and invite any interested party to join. With all signatories participating in the work, the project has stayed on course with an ambitious two-year timeline. To continue growing this momentum and support, a project website has been released, providing more information on how to engage with the project.

The Social & Labor Convergence Project seeks to develop a simple, unified and effective industry-wide assessment framework. This framework includes a standard-agnostic tool and verification methodology to collect relevant and essential data, with the ultimate intent to replace current proprietary tools. A common framework for data collection will reduce duplicated efforts, creating opportunities to invest resources previously designated for compliance audits into the improvement of social and labor conditions.  Collecting common data allows business partners to measure continuous improvement, and increase the opportunity for transparency. In this way, the social impacts and sustained improvements to working conditions in the apparel and footwear sector is accelerated.

The number of signatories has tripled since the launch of this project in October 2015, with over 95 stakeholders supporting the mission and a standing invitation for new signatories to join. Organizations like Arvind Mills, G-Star, GAP Inc., H&M, Hirdaramani, Intertek, OECD, Solidaridad, VF Corp.-Timberland, WRAP are partners from the start. The most recent members include: lululemon, The Netherlands Government and the Sri Lanka manufacturers’ association JAAF.

Janet Mensink, SAC director Social and Labor Convergence Project: “We have maintained on track with our aggressive two-year timeline for the project, to which our achievements could not have been met to date without the multi-stakeholder efforts from all of our signatories. The first version of the tool has been created and is currently reviewed by all signatories’.  This first prototype will be pilot tested in the next month.”

After multiple consultations with signatories and external stakeholders and pilot tests, the converged tool and verification methodology will be finalized and ready for use by Q1 2018.

Colleen Vien, VF Corp.-Timberland and Steering Committee member of the Social & Labor Convergence Project: I’ve seen efforts like this fail previously, but I do believe we are at a time now when it can and will be successful – for several reasons:  egos are being checked at the door , other industries have proven its possible, external auditing firms and social/labor standard holders are not threatened by the idea of convergence, there’s a genuine interest by all to see all of our efforts be more efficient and (more importantly) more effective.  There’s much work to be done to ensure the outcome delivers something that meets all stakeholders’ needs, something that can be depended upon. Together, with all the stakeholders involved, I’m optimistic this time.

The project’s significant progress to develop an industry-wide tool which accelerates social progress is noteworthy. This will be an initiative to watch over the next year.

The Social & Labor Convergence project is facilitated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and is additionally supported with external funding. The SAC is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainable production. Interested parties can contact SAC: janet@apparelcoalition.org

*This story first appeared on Social &Labor Convergence

Sustainable wet processing: Collaboration for greater impact

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By Solidaridad Netherlands, Sustainable Fashion Team

I am preparing for a very exciting trip to Bangladesh for our PaCT programme: Partnership for Cleaner Textile (www.textilepact.org). IFC and Solidaridad, with support of the Dutch Government, work with 8 partner brands and other key stakeholders in Bangladesh, to support PaCT partner factories in the implementation of cleaner production practices ànd to contribute to a shift to a more sustainable wet processing sector overall.

We are convinced that problems of excessive resource consumption (water, energy and chemicals) and pollution can be solved if we all take ownership and collaborate! New developments in the input industry (e.g. dyes, machinery and enzymes) for instance, provide opportunities for the textile dyeing and finishing industry to reduce resource consumption and pollution.

But change is not easy! How to successful… Read more here.