Towards a sustainable cotton supply chain
C&A’s Global Sustainability Report 2015 describes how we have helped the company understand the water footprint of cotton as part of its drive to source sustainable cotton for Fashion With a Positive Impact.
Water Footprint Network has been working with C&A and C&A Foundation to assess the water footprint of organic, REEL, and conventional cotton farming. Using farm data supplied by CottonConnect, we analysed the differences in agricultural practices and technologies of 1,144 cotton farmers in India and assessed their relative impacts on water use and water pollution.
We found striking differences in yields and in the grey water footprint. REEL farms yielded three times more cotton than the organic farms and 1.5 times more than conventional farms. The highest pollution levels were found on conventional farms, where the grey water footprint can be up to 333,766 m3 per tonne of cotton. The lowest was found on organic farms, where is can be just 178 m3 per tonne of cotton. That’s a 99.9% reduction in water pollution.
The apparel and textile sectors can use the study to significantly reduce the water footprint of cotton and other raw materials if it replicates the best practices identified. The results can also be used to inform regulatory and policy changes that will reduce the cumulative impact of unsustainable cotton farming on water resources and local communities.
For more information, read 'Towards Sustainable Water Use in the Cotton Supply Chain’.