Drivers of Change

Every step of the cotton supply chain is affected by various environmental and economic factors that, without our intervention, could adversely and permanently affect our industry. At the Sustainable Cotton Cluster, our role is to ensure our industry is resilient enough to withstand these forces, while also securing a sustainable future for every member of the value chain, from fibre to fabric.

More informed consumers

With information immediately available at the click of a link, consumers are changing the way they search for and buy products.

It has become much easier for consumers to compare quality, products and prices before deciding which to buy. Consumers are also more conscious about producer behaviour and, therefore, more wary, about buying products that have an adverse effect on the environment, or buying from producers whose business practices are unethical. Social media has made it very easy for customers to provide feedback. This makes it even more important for cotton growers, manufacturers and producers to ensure their products carry well-recognised marks that are synonymous with quality and integrity.

Global economic conditions

The world’s economy has changed in recent years.

Failing national economies and rising trends towards cheap imports place the local cotton supply chain under significant pressure to deliver products and profits. This creates a need to build resilience into our own Southern African value supply chain, to ensure the cotton sector is able to respond to changing market forces in a positive way.

Changing climate

While cotton is a hardy plant that can survive drought conditions, our reliance on it as a raw material places our sector on a precarious ledge.

As the world’s climate becomes more volatile, and weather patterns change in cotton growing regions, there is a greater need to find more sustainable ways of cultivating, managing and distributing crops.

Water security

Water security is perhaps one of the most pressing challenges.

The cotton supply chain uses water extensively in its production processes. Water pollution and general water scarcity can negatively affect these processes, and ultimately the sustainability of the cotton industry. By committing to more sustainable practices, it becomes possible to address these challenges head on, reducing our impact on the environment, and leaving a better world for future generations of growers, spinners, weavers, designers and producers.

Social development

Sustainability in the cotton industry means not only economic or environmental sustainability, but also social sustainability.

This means making a commitment to fair, decent labour practices, ensuring that workers from all parts of the supply chain are treated with dignity and respect, and paid fairly for the work they do. Without this commitment, any commentary on sustainability in the cotton sector is incomplete. Not only will this commitment help to secure our collective future, but it also makes good business sense.