Your Company has signed the Cotton Pledge. What’s Next?
1. Align Business Practices with the Commitment
Once the public declaration is made, it should be communicated clearly to all employees and suppliers and implemented into daily business practices via contracts, supplier meetings, trainings, or educational materials. Brands need to report publicly the steps being taken to ensure that company policies on Uzbek cotton are communicated, monitored, and adhered to by garment manufacturers, fabric mills, and yarn spinners throughout the company’s entire value chain.
2. Collect Country of Origin (COO) Documentation for all Cotton Products and Textiles
“Traceability” is “following the materials trail and its accompanying documentation” and is the most credible way for a brand to know its cotton does not originate in Uzbekistan. Brands should make it a requirement for their vendors and suppliers to provide and authenticate cotton COO documentation. Documents could include bills of lading, purchase orders, packing and inventory lists, incoming material records, production records, and raw material certifications. Companies can incorporate a COO field in all fabric specification documents and make it a requirement that all suppliers provide the COO for the fabric being used.
3. Involve Yarn and Textile Mills
The company can assess risks by identifying the location of strategic mills, and then comparing locations to the country information contained in the From the Field report. Brands should send a strong message on this issue to their sourcing agents, first-tier manufacturers, and fabric suppliers, and then work with them to identify and engage spinning and weaving mills deeper in the chain. Brands should communicate to the mills that it is unacceptable to have any Uzbek cotton inside the same facilities where yarn or textiles are being manufactured for the brand. Periodic unannounced audits should confirm the mill is not purchasing Uzbek cotton.
4. Engage the Uzbek Government
Since 2008, RSN along with a number of corporations, NGOs, and investors have met with numerous representatives from the U.S. State Department and the Uzbek government. Since it is extremely impactful to have corporate representation at these meetings, companies should actively communicate their concerns by signing letters or having representatives at diplomatic meetings when requested to do so by the Economic Leverage Working Group or the Cotton Campaign.
5. Join RSN’s Economic Leverage Working Group on Uzbek Cotton
The group meets monthly via conference call to share updates on traceability initiatives, new research, mill engagement, related media, and diplomatic engagement with the Uzbek government and other international institutions. To receive information about this group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being at the forefront of changing how an entire industry sources its raw materials is not an easy feat. Only through shared expertise and active collaboration where each company and stakeholder lends its name and its voice can we bring about much needed reforms in Uzbekistan. Fortunately for the Uzbek citizens, there is a dedicated group of individuals committed to implementing solutions. Thank you for joining this effort.