In October 2009, Gildan obtained from the Cotton Council International (CCI) the right to use the internationally recognized COTTON USA Mark, which identifies and distinguishes quality products manufactured with a high content of U.S. cotton, on Gildan’s consumer packaging of products manufactured from U.S. cotton.
Gildan is conscious of the inherent benefits of U.S. cotton, which is why we source the vast majority of the cotton used at our own manufacturing sites from the United States. These benefits are associated with various environmental and social advantages as U.S. cotton growers increase their use of sustainable agricultural practices and ethical workplace conditions, mainly through the use of new farming and processing technologies minimizing the environmental impact by using less water, land and energy. For example, new fiber varieties requiring less water have decreased irrigation requirements and the use of conservation tillage practices is decreasing tractor fuel needs and consumption, thus reducing the GHG emissions linked to their use. Also, U.S. cotton manufacturers are subject to U.S. labour laws, which include human rights and labor conditions of workers, including but not limited to, safe working conditions and issues such as child labor, forced labor, discrimination and freedom of association.
Some facts about U.S. cotton:
- U.S. cotton is regulated as a food crop as well as a fibre crop by U.S. regulatory agencies (USDA and FDA), therefore subject to the same rigorous environmental standards as food producers
- U.S. cotton growers offer an ethical and safe work environment, respecting employee rights according to the laws and regulations as enforced under O.S.H.A. standards and U.S. law.
- U.S. cotton is a drought and heat-tolerant crop, with two-thirds grown of planted acreage requiring no supplemental irrigation in addition to rainfall.
Two-thirds of U.S. growers use conservation tillage, which saves about 907 million metric tons of soil per year and over one billion litres of tractor fuel. Conservation tillage is a method different than conventional tillage. It reduces soil erosion and therefore nutrient loss. It also increases the soil moisture and organic matter content in soil.
- U.S. cotton is a net greenhouse gas (GHG) absorber, with more GHG absorbed in the fiber, plants and soil than are emitted during the entire agricultural cycle from field preparation through harvest.
- The U.S. cotton industry is highly regulated and transparent, with multiple third party audits performed and an oversight from numerous NGOs and governmental departments.
Gildan’s position on Uzbekistan cotton
Gildan requires all business partners to confirm, by means of a signed statement, that they do not use or procure any cotton fiber originating from Uzbekistan in any supplies of yarn to our organization or in the manufacturing of our products. We are working to continuously improve the traceability of the cotton used for our products. In 2013, Gildan plans to establish an internal cotton traceability system.