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Survey finds sustainability high on the agenda

Pandemic has had a positive impact on proactive investment.

1st April 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Memphis, TN

Sustainable, Clothing/​Footwear

The US Cotton Trust Protocol recently surveyed sustainability decision-makers at 1,000 brands and retailers in the USA and UK to determine the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the importance of sustainability initiatives.

As brands and retailers look to the future, there is a sense of optimism for increased consumer spending and investment in environmentally friendly practices – with 28% of the brands and retailers surveyed committed to setting new industry standards for sustainability. 

 The research findings reveal that 69% of brands and retailers believe that the pandemic has emphasised the importance of environmentally friendly products to customers – with two-thirds (61%) also noting that there has been an increased demand for sustainable products. 

The research also found that 63% of brands and retailers believed the pandemic has had a positive impact on their company’s proactive investment in sustainability.

“It is undeniable that the pandemic has caused unforeseen challenges for brands, retailers and consumers alike – but this research reaffirms the commitment to a continued focus on sustainability,” said Dr Gary Adams, president of the US Cotton Trust Protocol.  “We’re encouraged to learn that so many brands and retailers are looking to set new standards for the industry, instead of simply following what currently exists. As we work towards recovery in many sectors, systems like the Trust Protocol are available to provide the data needed to verify that sustainability targets are being met.”

New normal

As the vaccine roll-out picks up pace across the world, consumers are beginning to think about the ‘new normal’, with 50% of brands and retailers expecting to see an increase in customer spending on sustainable apparel over the next 12 months. They attribute the most common drivers for this increased spending to a need for people to get back to normal (62%) and that some consumers will have saved money during the pandemic (67%). 

As work continues towards delivering more sustainable options to meet growing consumer demand, findings show 65% of brands and retailers agree that data is important to their future sustainability goals. The Trust Protocol will provide brands and retailers with the critical assurances they need to show the cotton fibre element of their supply chain is more sustainably grown with lower environmental and social risk. 

The Trust Protocol is a system for more responsibly grown cotton that has committed to six areas of sustainability in line with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. It underpins and verifies sustainability progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification, enabling members to better track the cotton entering their supply chain. Members also have access to aggregate year-over-year data on water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon and land use efficiency. 

The Trust Protocol is included on the Textile Exchange’s list of 36 preferred fibres and materials that more than 170 participating brands and retailers can select from as part of the Textile Exchange Material Change Index programme. The Trust Protocol also is working to align with existing standards in the cotton industry and is part of the Forum for the Future Cotton 2040 and the CottonUp guide.

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