About the Trust Protocol

In a period of ever greater supply chain scrutiny and a growing demand for transparency, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® sets a new standard for more sustainably grown cotton. Aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Trust Protocol brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to more sustainable cotton production and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics – land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy efficiency.

The Trust Protocol underpins and verifies U.S. cotton’s sustainability progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification. Choosing the Trust Protocol cotton will provide brands and retailers the critical assurances they need that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is more sustainably grown with lower environmental and social risk.

Launched in the summer of 2020, the Trust Protocol is voluntary for U.S. cotton producers and allows us to report on six key sustainability metrics from the farm-level. Firmly rooted in their established principles of continuous improvement, this initiative will help drive all U.S. cotton production toward their 2025 sustainability targets and beyond.

The Trust Protocol is aligned with existing sustainability programs including the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. It brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to sustainable cotton production and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics – land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy efficiency. The Trust Protocol is designed from the ground up to address the unique regulatory and larger farm growing environment of the United States.

The U.S. cotton industry is unique with mass-scale precision irrigation and fertilization based on in-field measurements, utilizing big data and automation to better increase efficiency and focusing on methods to improve soil health. The Trust Protocol gives evidence to the sustainability credentials that are proven via Field to Market, measured via the Field Calculator and verified with Control Union Certifications.

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change is based on science based measurement and feedback.

How the Trust Protocol Works​

Through the Trackable Equivalency Program, the Trust Protocol helps ensure the commitments behind our cotton.

Measures and Verifies Sustainability Commitments

The Trust Protocol enables brands and retailers to better track the cotton entering their supply chain and to further quantify and report on their individual sustainability goals and objectives.

Continuous Improvement in the Fields

The 16,000 cotton farms in the United States have been committed to continuous improvement for decades. Over the past 35 years, U.S. cotton production has used 79% less water per bale and 54% less energy. We have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, and land use per bale by 49%. We need to continue to innovate and introduce new practices that will serve to further position U.S. cotton as one of the most sustainable cotton growing nation in the world.

Member Cost Structure

In joining the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®, members can prove, measure and verify that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is more sustainably grown with lower environmental and social risk. The Trust Protocol will require a membership fee to be paid by participating brands and retailers starting summer 2021.

Episode 7 of Smarter Conversations

How does third-party verification work and how do we do it?

This episode focuses on independent verification, which is at the heart of the Trust Protocol. Diana Perez from Control Union Certifications and Trust Protocol grower Dahlen Hancock from Texas explain how it works – in theory and in practice – and why it matters.