The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® Advantages

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® will set a new standard for sustainably grown cotton. In joining the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®, members can prove, measure, and verify that they are buying sustainably produced, quality fiber, and that their field-to-mill supply chain is free of environmental and social risk. 

Sustainable and Risk-Free, Guaranteed

Improved Sustainability and Reduced Risk

Brands and Retail members who chose to participate in the Trust Protocol Program confidently know they are sourcing sustainably grown and ethically harvested U.S. cotton fiber, of the highest quality, under a rigorous science-based sustainability program.

The Trust Protocol allows access to data that will enable brands and retailers to measure progress against corporate sustainability commitments and pledges and to confidently report that progress to their multiple stakeholders. The Trust Protocol is aligned with seven of the U.N. SDG’s, as well as the G7 Fashion Pact, the UNFCCC Fashion Industry Charter, the Sustainable Cotton Challenge and the Forum for the Future: Cotton 2040 goals. 

The Trust Protocol underpins and verifies Participating U.S. Trust Protocol Grower sustainability practices through sophisticated data collection and robust verification schemes. Choosing Trust Protocol cotton will give members the critical assurances they need that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is sustainable and lessen environmental and social risk. 

Continuous Improvement

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 82% less water per bale and 38% less energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, all while reducing land use per bale by 31%. 

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 44% per acre and increasing soil carbon levels.

Industry-wide regulation and quality control

Source U.S. cotton with confidence, knowing that the United States has one of the most comprehensive and strict regulatory environments to ensure responsible growing practices as well as cotton trackability and quality-control, making it a safe and more sustainable choice:

  • The U.S. regulatory framework is extensive and covers environmental regulations on pesticides, labor, wages, working conditions, safety and health. U.S. cotton is also regulated as a food crop, making it safe for people and the environment.
  • The Permanent Bale Identification system, which assigns a unique barcode to every bale of U.S. grown cotton at the gin, provides farm-to-mill trackability for each bale.
  • The USDA Classification System, used the world over, underpins the quality and consistency of every order of U.S. cotton that enters the supply chain – long staple length, minimal contaminants and bright, uniform color.

Data-driven analysis

To meet the ever-increasing demands for apparel brands to demonstrate their environmental credentials, the environmental performance of Trust Protocol cotton is measured and analyzed at the field-level. The Fieldprint® Calculator, devised by Trust Protocol data partner, Field to Market, powered by The Seam, illustrates in graphic form the precision agriculture techniques employed by Trust Protocol growers.

These techniques maximize yield, minimize water and chemical inputs, and leave healthy soil for future seasons and generations. This data is made available, in aggregate form, to brands partnering with the Trust Protocol for use in their own sustainability reporting.

Trust Protocol participant grower metrics

Trust Protocol members will have access to aggregate sustainability metrics based on self-assessment questionnaires of participating growers. In addition, members will receive customized reporting based on national environmental metrics for key sustainability indicators.

Trusted third-party verification

In addition, the Trust Protocol incorporates a comprehensive program of verification against Trust Protocol benchmarks, in the form of both second-party and independent third-party audits of grower performance through Control Union Certifications—the latter through allocated on-site visits.

Control Union Certifications has certified over 150 industry standards programs worldwide, including working as a key partner in the early development and piloting phases of Field to Market’s Impact Claim Verification Protocol.

Full traceability from farm to laydown

Through a combination of a unique credit accounting system and the Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) system, The Trust Protocol helps ensure the commitments behind our cotton. Each of the Trust Protocol credits are backed by real sustainability data, and third party verified.  The Trust Protocol Credit System: At the gin, growers receive a unique credit for each kilogram of cotton they harvest. Each credit is deposited in the grower’s Trust Protocol credit account where it stays until purchased. When the cotton is sold, the credits are transferred along with the cotton to its new owner. Importantly, each credit is tied to the bale’s permanent identification number, enabling far greater traceability.  

The Permanent Bale Identification system: The PBI system assigns a unique barcode to every bale of U.S. grown cotton at the gin, provides farm-to-mill trackability for each bale. 

As each bale goes through the ginning and classing process, the PBI tag travels with it. So, you always know where, when and how it was harvested, ginned and classed.