Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien
Know-how

Cotton

Characteristics of the material

Skin-friendly, breathable, high moisture absorption capacity, tear-resistant.

Use

Cotton is mainly used in the manufacture of apparel, hygiene and home articles. Fibre waxes and cotton seeds can be processed into edible oil, soap and lubricants. The short-fibred linters on the seed can be used to produce paper.

Production

The cotton plant can be grown in tropical and subtropical areas with low frost and high precipitation, where the natural fibre matures within six months in the form of fluffy fruits. Harvested with industrial harvesting machines or by hand, the fibre bulbs are harvested and then ginned by machine. The fibre material obtained in this way is spun into yarns in spinning mills, from which fabrics for clothing and other cotton products are produced in subsequent production steps.

Challenges

Conventional cultivation methods cause soil erosion and salinisation. Soil quality can deteriorate, in the worst case soils become infertile. The cultivation of genetically modified seeds and the associated frequent use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers endanger the health of workers who come into contact with the substances along the production chain. In some production countries, pesticide-contaminated cotton components, such as vegetable oils from the cotton seeds, are also added to food. Forced and child labour as well as a lack of labour and health standards also pose a challenge for the fair and sustainable production of cotton.

Contribution of the Textiles Partnership

The members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles have set themselves the goal of procuring at least 35 percent sustainable cotton by 2020, 10 percent of which should come from organic farming or transition to organic farming. This share is to be doubled by 2025, i.e. to 70 percent sustainable cotton, 20 percent of which will be organic cotton or cotton under transition.

Training materials and supply chain risk analyses are also being developed to improve cotton production.

Here you can find publications of the Textiles Partnership and helpful links regarding cotton:

How to go Organic: Organic Cotton Sourcing Guide

How to go Organic: Organic Cotton Sourcing Guide

CottonUP Guide: A practical guide to sourcing more sustainable cotton

© Copyright - Partnership for Sustainable Textiles