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Walmart Sustainability

There are about 150 certification agencies but we

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Unformatted text preview: ton, we have chosen the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] standards. So, regardless of where the cotton is grown around the world, the farmers have to follow USDA guidelines for organic growth. For processing, we’re following the Global Organic Textile Standard [GOTS]. This is probably the toughest standard out there in the industry for organic processing and Walmart’s Sustainability Strategy (A) OIT-71A p. 18 handling, and it’s the only certification process that can be followed for organic products coming to Walmart. Under GOTS, numerous chemicals traditionally used for processing cotton were prohibited. However, certain hazardous chemicals were allowed simply because safer substitutes were not yet commercially available at industrial scale. Third party organizations were used to certify practices at each link in the supply chain as the cotton moved from farm to factory. “There are about 150 certification agencies but we recognize only the seven that we think are the most strict … Since we’re not doing that paperwork, our reputation is resting on who is certifying for us, which is why we picked the toughest certification companies,” said Brandner. Certification paperwork was completed at each step in the process and finally reviewed by Consumer Testing Laboratories (CTL) in conjunction with final product testing. The cost and labor requirements of certification were largely absorbed by Walmart’s suppliers. In addition to the cost of certification, farmers faced reduced yields with organic cotton farming (in the first three to seven years) and the need to diversify crops. “Organic farmers can’t grow cotton in the same field for an extended period of time because it depletes the soil of nutrients,” said Rothschild. This forced farmers to alternate the planting of cotton with legumes, vegetables or other cover crops to rejuvenate the soil.41 “Those alternate crops often are not sold as organic and are not as lucrative as organic cotton. This creates the temptation for farmers to turn to nonorganic farming,” she explained. However, to meet organic s...
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