Moving from “Not Knowingly” to “Not Sourcing” Uzbek Cotton
RSN launched the “Cotton Pledge” during NY Fashion Week, 2011 as a way to show the growing number of brands and retailers that don’t want forced adult and child labor embedded in the fibers of their clothing and other products. Today over 130 brands and retailers have signed on!
Now that the pledge is signed, many companies may be asking themselves “What’s next?”
Here are steps that some leading companies are requiring and that RSN recommends all companies require:
1. No Uzbek cotton is contained inside any sewn product, fabric, yarn, or fibers.
2. Trace Country of Origin (COO) of all cotton in products so it is known exactly where all cotton originates.
3. If a supplier does not provide COO, the company will not do business with them.
4. Providing COO is a prerequisite for placing an order with a supplier.
5. No yarn or textile mill that the company uses materials from can purchase Uzbek cotton. If Uzbek cotton is used at all, even for other customers, the company will stop doing business with that mill.
6. Audit all of the mills at least once a year (unannounced) to ensure the mills are abiding by the above. If Uzbek cotton is found in the facilities whatsoever, current and future business with that mill will cease.
7. Publicly report on the steps taken, the number of mills being audited, and any violations to these requirements.
More multi-strategey action items can be found on the RSN page What’s Next.
Due to the Uzbek government’s control of all aspects of the cotton industry, including exports, it is critical that economic leverage is implemented to the fullest extent. This is the only way to put the necessary pressure on the Government of Uzbekistan so it is motivated to change its current structure and stop forcing children and adults to labor in the cotton fields.