Several Australian brands have switched to sustainable cotton sourcing and are keen to learn about where their raw materials are grown, said Michael Kobori from Levi Strauss & Co at a Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) Forum. Over 100 brands, retailers, NGOs, cotton scientists and farmers came together to learn about Australia’s sustainable cotton industry.
“Australia plays a crucial role in sustainable cotton globally. It’s great to see Australian cotton tackling important issues on the farm such as climate change, water use efficiency, pesticides and biodiversity. I’m encouraged by the Australian brands who are supporting BCI, it would be great to see more brands cotton on to the idea,” said Kobori who is involved with BCI, a sustainability initiative improving cotton production practices in 21 countries including Australia.
Kobori has led sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. since 2001. Under his tenure, the company has been a pioneer, reducing the environmental impact of its products through its Levi’s Waste<Less and Water<Less collections, Dockers WellThread collection, Care for Our Planet programme, and leadership on the Better Cotton Initiative.
The forum also heard from leading Australian cotton scientists about the work that underpins the Better Cotton principles around climate change, soil health, water and biodiversity, Cotton Australia’s Cotton to Market programme manager Brooke Summers said.
“The Australian cotton industry invests over $20 million a year in research and development, with a large proportion of that focused on sustainability. Science and innovation have underpinned the cotton industry’s environmental achievements which include being the most land-use efficient cotton industry in the world,” Brooke said.
With the drought set to worsen in NSW and Queensland, the forum also heard from a panel of cotton farmers who despite current conditions have all reached full certification in the Better Cotton standard.
“There’s no doubt the drought will impact on the amount of Better Cotton available from Australia next season, especially if we don’t get winter rains. We’re currently predicting a crop of less than 20 per cent normal production, and yet we are at record levels of participation in our sustainability standard with over 80% of our farmers involved,” Brooke said.
The impressive turn out of brands representing more than 20 companies at the forum is a great sign that sustainability is becoming more a part of the way business is done here in Australia.
“More and more brands have visited our farms and are recognising that Australian cotton is grown with some of the highest sustainability standards in the world. When brands join the Better Cotton Initiative they send a strong signal to our farmers that sustainable cotton is what they want and this in turn drives participation at farm level,” Brooke concluded.