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LONDON – We sent a copy of our recent cotton paper to all industry bodies mentioned in it, including Textile Exchange, C&A Foundation, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Soil Association, Kering and Stella McCartney. We met with an underwhelming, often prickly response which suggested to us that most of them would prefer we’d never broached this issue.

C&A Foundation told us it would not be responding – despite us extensively referencing its cotton LCA. They also told us, “I would be careful with those claims,” this in response to our suggestion that many of our researcher’s queries to them and other organisations had gone unanswered (which we can prove to be true – we have full documentation going back several months).

BCI similarly stated they would not be submitting a response. We also sent the Soil Association the full article. They did not even respond to our email. This is disappointing as the same organisation recently claimed that the growing of organic cotton uses 91 per cent less water than conventional cotton. Surely they would be happy, then, to take part in a debate on this issue. Apparently not.

Kering did not explain how it justifies claiming that organic cotton has an 80 per cent lower impact than conventional in its EP&L, or indeed, respond to any of the issues actually raised in the article, other than telling us that they plan to analyse usage and end of life impacts as part of a new consumer facing project (which we welcome).

The SAC claimed: “Without allowing the support and funding from material production companies and brands, the SAC, and the industry, would face substantial obstacles to collecting and providing high-quality life cycle inventory data.

“The result of that scenario would be a huge loss of expertise and would require governments to step into this space to fill the voids that exist. If that is what is really being requested, then pressure should be put on the parties that are able to provide independent data.”

We agree that governments may need to step into this space. Indeed, if we are serious about halting climate change, we need expert and independent analysis of every aspect of our consumption, rather than the muddle of serious scientific analysis and interest group interpretations, that currently prevails.

Textile Exchange provided no new data. Nor did not explain how it justifies claiming that based solely on its 2014 LCA, organic cotton consumes 80-90 per cent less water than conventional cotton, when that LCA itself states it does no such thing. TE did include links to a number of studies covering biodiversity and such, but while we agree that these aspects are important, they are covered neither in the three LCAs we referred to in our paper, nor in the article itself.

In addition, Textile Exchange has since issued a public response to our paper which can be found HERE.


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