What is Sustainability?

What is Sustainability?
Created on: 04/26/2018


It’s a buzzword in modern agriculture, but what is it?

Ultimately it can be summed as managing in a positive manner the environmental impact of the crop production process and being able to convey that responsibility down the supply chain.  Growers must be cognizant of how their crops impact the environment, and consumers want to know that products come from environmentally friendly sources.

In February of 2017, Cotton Council International, the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council, cooperated with Cotton Incorporated and the rest of the cotton industry to establish a Sustainability Task Force with six specific goals to achieve by 2025:

  • Reducing the amount of land needed to produce a pound of cotton fiber by 13 percent
  • Reducing soil loss by 50 percent
  • Increasing water use efficiency (more fiber per gallon) by 18 percent
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent
  • Increasing soil carbon in fields by 30 percent
  • Reducing energy to produce seed cotton and ginned lint by 15 percent

The intent is to reach these goals through the use of the best growing practices, precision agriculture, and new technologies.  The long term benefit of these goals is to use less resources and produce a better planet for upcoming generations while still maintaining high quality cotton that meets the demands of worldwide consumers.  The short term benefit of a sustainable crop is an improved stance in a global market that is concerned with how its products are sourced.

Two programs with which the U.S. cotton industry has allied to improve sustainability are Cotton Leads and Field to Market.  Cotton Leads is a partnership between the Australian and U.S. cotton industries to further innovate and improve sustainability beyond the high standards already existing in both countries, and to partner with global manufacturers and retailers to promote sustainable cotton sourcing.  Field to Market is a collaborative organization across multiple U.S. agricultural industries that uses tools and resources to create supply chain transparency and assist growers to calculate sustainability in their growing practices.

It is important to grow cotton sustainably; however, it is equally important to be able to pass that information down the supply chain so that textile manufacturers, brands, and retailers are aware and able to support sustainability efforts.  To do so requires the cooperation of all members of the supply chain.  EWR, as the leading cotton receipt provider in the U.S., is currently cooperating with these organizations to assist with U.S. cotton sustainability efforts.  We feel it is important for EWR to ensure the hard work of U.S. cotton growers is widely known.


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