The program has three main pillars:
Quantifiable, Verifiable Goals and Measurement
The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol provides farm level data proven via Field to Market, measured by the Fieldprint Calculator, and verified by Control Union Certification. Data collection and verification contains multiple stages but begins with the grower who voluntarily provides information on their sustainable production practices.
The data reported in 2020/21 was received from approximately 300 growers in 16 states and 147 counties. In 2020/21, the Trust Protocol enrolled 600,000 acres and secured approximately 950,000 bales, representing 6% of the U.S. cotton crop. Findings from 2020/21 Trust Protocol grower members’ aggregate data showed improvements against the 2015 representative group in land use, water use efficiency, energy use, GHG emissions, soil carbon, and soil conservation as well as an increase in yield.
Article-Level Supply Chain Transparency
The Trust Protocol is the world’s first sustainable cotton fiber to offer its members article-level supply chain transparency via the Protocol Platform and the TextileGenesis Platform.
The Protocol Consumption Management Solution (PCMS) harnesses blockchain technology to record and verify the movement of U.S. Cotton along the entire supply chain beginning at the gin. The PCMS is a Verified Trackable Equivalency Solution which assures cotton produced on grower members’ farms is used. Brands and retailers can claim data backed, verified Protocol Cotton Consumption Units based on their individual consumption.
The PCMS creates a transparency map that provides the authenticated origin of U.S. cotton, along with the names and locations of the Trust Protocol mill and manufacturer members that were involved in all parts of the production process, into the finished products that are shipped to the brand or retailer, which may assist customs clearance.
Over the past 35 years, U.S. cotton production has used 79% less water and 54% less energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, all while reducing land use by 49%. 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 37% per acre and increasing soil carbon levels. The program is aligned with the U.S. 2025 National Goals for Continuous Improvement and understands that a focus on innovation and technology has enabled the use of techniques such as precision agriculture, cover crops and conservation tillage to reduce environmental impact. The Trust Protocol also upholds several principles for best management practices in common with those found in regenerative systems.