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Cotton USA and Oritain partner for traceability

To achieve the new level of traceability, Oritain’s method applies forensic science to detect trace elements in the cotton.

1st November 2019

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Washington, DC

Clothing/​Footwear, Sports/​Outdoor, Interiors, Sustainable

Industry first: forensic verification of origin for all US cotton. © Marianne Krohn on Unsplash

Cotton USA and Oritain have signed a partnership to provide industry leading, forensic verification of origin for all US cotton. A global first for the cotton industry, this collaboration will give brands and retailers the assurance they need to make responsible sourcing and purchasing decisions, the organisation reports.

“We’re thrilled that Cotton USA is taking the lead when it comes to traceability,” said Rupert Hodges, Executive Director, Oritain. “We want to support Cotton USA who are making a conscious effort to find real, workable ways of farming more sustainably. The result is an incredibly high-quality crop that not only performs well but supports the environment. Now through Oritain, customers who choose US cotton can have total confidence that they are getting the product that they sourced.”

New level of traceability

While this level of traceability is new, the US cotton industry has always strived to produce and deliver high-quality sustainable cotton. This ambition is already being realised through improved fibre properties, increased productivity and a shrinking environmental footprint.  All cotton-producing regions in the US are aiming to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil loss, water, energy and land usage.

“This partnership with Oritain will provide Cotton USA with a unique selling point in both domestic and export markets,” said Bruce Atherley, Executive Director, Cotton Council International. “Now US cotton will offer the highest level of end-to-end traceability in the industry, combined with a raw material that is leading the way in terms of sustainable practices – two things that global clothing brands now demand from their suppliers.”

Origin Fingerprint

To achieve the level of traceability that the industry is demanding, Oritain’s method applies forensic science to detect trace elements in the cotton itself. Soil composition and other environmental factors give the cotton an inherent fingerprint specific to each location – what Oritain calls the Origin Fingerprint. This is the only way to be absolutely sure of where particular cotton was grown. Cotton can be tested at any stage on its journey from farm to shop floor, giving buyers complete assurance that the product has not been substituted along the way, the company explains.

Guaranteeing origin will address traceability challenges faced by the global cotton industry, including minimizing the risk of supply chain partners blending the product with lower quality fibres.

“Global supply chains are incredibly complex and the potential for blending and other illegal activity in the production of cotton textile products is large. However, given that Oritain's Origin Fingerprint cannot be altered or faked, Cotton USA and their customers can be safe in the knowledge that their product is exactly what it says it is,” said Mr Hodges.

This new partnership follows a successful pilot programme and blind test for Oritain, during which samples were collected across Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and subsequently identified with 100% accuracy.

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