Enhancing Traceability in the Fashion Supply Chain with U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
September 18th, 2023

A program at the forefront of this transformative journey is the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, which offers brands and retailers an innovative traceability solution for cotton, known as Protocol Cotton.


Heightened consumer awareness of the fashion industry's profound social and environmental impact has ignited a global movement for change. A Bain & Company study conducted in 2022 uncovered a significant shift, with approximately 15 percent of global fashion consumers already displaying a high level of concern for sustainability. These conscientious consumers are actively making choices to reduce their ecological footprint, and it is anticipated that this figure will soar to over 50 percent in the near future.

As consumers reassess their purchasing habits and environmental regulations grow more stringent, brands find themselves compelled to minimize their environmental and social footprint. A 2019 analysis by McKinsey & Company underscored the fact that sustainability is no longer an option but a necessity for apparel executives. Sustainable sourcing at scale is seen as essential not only for the success of individual companies but also for the overall health of the industry.

McKinsey's findings emphasize that sustainability initiatives must transcend individual companies. Brands and retailers must shoulder the responsibility of measuring and incentivizing sustainable practices throughout their extensive supply chains. Moreover, they need to champion the development of industry-wide standards and actively engage the broader public in the sustainable fashion revolution.


The Role of Traceability

Traceability emerges as a linchpin in the endeavor to green the fashion supply chain. It introduces transparency and accountability into the production process, guaranteeing adherence to sustainability standards, ethical labor practices, and responsible sourcing. At the retail level, traceability empowers consumers, enabling them to make informed choices and support brands that align with their values. Ultimately, the practice of tracing the supply chain fosters trust and drives positive change across the fashion industry.


Protocol Cotton: A Leading Solution:

One program at the forefront of this transformative journey is the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol by COTTON USA™, which offers brands and retailers an innovative traceability solution for cotton, known as Protocol Cotton. This cutting-edge technology meticulously tracks Protocol Cotton through the blockchain-based Protocol Consumption Management Solution (PCMS). The process commences at the cotton ginning stage, where each cotton bale's unique Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) number and gin weight undergo authentication against a USDA master list. Once verified, a digital token, referred to as a Protocol Consumption Unit (PCCU), is generated for each kilogram of Protocol Cotton fiber.



Advancements in Traceability:

Recent developments in the Trust Protocol have transformed the cotton industry landscape. The enrollment period for growers has been adjusted, granting brands and retailers earlier and more efficient access to Protocol Cotton. Now, Protocol Cotton can be verified immediately upon ginning, aligning with the critical three-month marketing window that kicks off in November during the peak of cotton ginning. This adjustment permits Trust Protocol growers' cotton to be designated as Protocol Cotton on their initial Electronic Warehouse Receipt.

This new timeline empowers brand and retailer members of the Trust Protocol to collaborate proactively with marketers. They can now plan the sourcing and utilization of sustainably grown cotton well in advance, fostering greater sustainability in their operations.


Transparency for Positive Change

For PCMS-tracked cotton, brands and retailers receive a comprehensive transparency map that verifies the origin, starting from the initial fiber shipment to a textile mill. It also provides information on the Trust Protocol mill and manufacturer members involved at every production stage until the delivery of finished products. This heightened transparency creates opportunities for enhanced communication, including the incorporation of environmental data into marketing claims and product labels, fostering proportionate and meaningful sustainability practices.

Protocol Cotton's traceability solution is revolutionizing the fashion industry, aligning it with the demands of sustainability-conscious consumers and global environmental standards. It empowers brands, retailers, and consumers alike to make informed choices and drive positive change in the fashion world. As sustainability continues to take center stage, this transformation is essential for a more responsible and eco-conscious fashion industry.