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AMSTERDAM – Cotton is by far the most used material by Dutch apparel brands which have signed up to a landmark sustainability initiative. The Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) reports that an impressive 44 per cent of cotton used by participants – which include C&A, G-Star and Esprit as well as civil society and government bodies – is sustainable cotton. The initiative has also reported a substantially larger number of production sites, with China by far the biggest sourcing hub for members. The new production site list shows the 4,268 sites where participating companies produced goods in the past year.

The Agreement has, for the first time, identified the materials companies use and the subsequent quantity of ‘sustainable’ materials. “It is clear that cotton is by far the most frequently used material, of which 56 per cent is ordinary cotton and 44 per cent more sustainable cotton,” said a note from the organisation. “This knowledge makes it possible to monitor the sustainable credentials of the choices that companies will make in the years to come. Here you can find an overview of the most frequently used materials.”

The rise in the number of production sites is a result of more companies signing up to the Agreement, as well as companies gaining more insight into their supply chain and production sites. A statement added: “This is a positive step towards transparency, because if companies gain a better understanding of the value chain, they are in a better position to act on the risks identified. With this list, NGOs and trade unions can get to the bottom of the prevailing working conditions at production sites through their partner organisations and they can raise any occurring issues within the Agreement.”

Since the start of the Agreement in 2016, the number of participants has risen from 55 to 79 brands and it is expected that the Agreement will achieve its objective of 50 per cent market coverage in 2018.

The Dutch Agreement, which is now partnered with the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, has not been without its critics. In January this year, the Netherlands Clean Clothes Campaign (SKC) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) concluded that there is still no sign of any substantial improvements for garment workers as a result of the agreement.

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