Unlocking cotton transparency: Exploring industry’s traceability dimensions

Growing consumer awareness of the profound social and environmental impact of the fashion industry has sparked a global movement for change. In 2022, A Bain & Company study showed that approximately 15% of global fashion consumers are already concerned about sustainability.

Figure 1: Traceability in the cotton industry.

These consumers are actively making choices to minimize their environmental impact, and this number is expected to reach more than 50% in the near future. As consumers reassess their purchasing habits and environmental regulations become more stringent, brands find themselves with an obligation to minimize their environmental and social impact.

Why traceability is needed in cotton industry and supply chain management

Traceability plays a central role in greening the fashion supply chain, bringing transparency and accountability to the production process, while ensuring compliance with sustainability standards and best practices.  In retail, this allows consumers to make informed choices and support brands that align with their values. Ultimately, tracing the supply chain will build trust and create positive change throughout the fashion industry.

Cotton Protocol: An innovative solution

One of the programs at the forefront of this transformation journey is COTTON USA™, a Cotton Trust Protocol, which provides brands and retailers with an innovative cotton traceability solution. This advanced technology meticulously tracks Protocol Cotton through the blockchain-based Protocol Consumption Management Solution (PCMS).

The process begins at the ginning stage, where the Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) number and milling weight of each cotton bale are validated against the USDA master list. Once verified, a digital token, called a Protocol Consumption Unit (PCCU), is generated for each kilogram of Protocol cotton yarn.

Figure 2: How cotton protocol works on traceability.

Starting this year, Protocol Cotton can be verified immediately upon ginning. Because more than half of the U.S. crop is marketed within a crucial three-month window beginning at the height of cotton ginning in November, this new timeline will allow Trust Protocol growers’ cotton to be verified as Protocol Cotton on their initial Electronic Warehouse Receipt.

With this new timeline, Protocol member brands and retailers can collaborate with marketers in advance to plan for the sourcing and use of more sustainably grown cotton.

Assuring transparency- Protocol cotton issue

For cotton tracked by PCMS, brands and retailers will receive a transparency tag verifying the origin from the original fiber shipment to the textile mill. It also provides the names and locations of Trust Protocol factories involved in every step of the manufacturing process until delivery of the finished product.

This creates enhanced communication opportunities, including the ability to incorporate relevant environmental data into marketing claims and product labels thereby promoting appropriate and sustainable sustainability practices.

Figure 3: Modules of cotton protocol.

Protocol Cotton’s traceability solution is revolutionizing the fashion industry, aligning it with the needs of consumers and global environmental standards. It empowers brands, retailers and consumers to make particular choices and drive positive change in the world of fashion. As sustainability continues to take center stage, this transformation is necessary for the fashion industry to become more responsible and environmentally conscious as well.

Showcasing pathway to sustainability

Figure 4: Cotton protocol can be a sustainable initiative for the future world.

The evolution of laws, standards, regulations and consumer habits shows a clear trajectory that sustainability efforts by brands and retailers will continue to increase. As the industry grapples with these challenges, it is definitely clear that scalable solutions are required to effectively mitigate negative environmental impacts.

In this regard, the necessity of programs like the Trust Protocol offering a promising avenue to address these pressing concerns etc. are needed. By working together towards a common goal and prioritizing the scalability of sustainable practices, the fashion industry can confidently navigate the evolving landscape, paving the way for a sustainable and resilient future more ethically.

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