Natural Cotton

Revitalising European value chains

Natural Cotton case instantiates the more general concern of TCBL to promote sustainable and eco-friendly choices in textile and clothing value chain by privileging the use of natural materials (cotton, silk, wool, …). The case will exploit the increasing interest of consumers for eco-sustainable products, which is already an existing market trend offering new business opportunities. In business terms, Natural Cotton case aims to test and illustrate the advantage, for all those involved in, of rebuilding traceable European value-chains producing and valorising these natural materials. What is at stake, by rebuilding these value-chains, is not only to valorise these raw materials but also to save and exploit better the accumulated knowledge and know-how existing at each step of their transformation in final products, which is often a precious, but neglected, competitive advantage of EU producers. The expected result of the Natural Cotton case, in macro-economic terms, is to increase the share of added-value of EU origin in the final products sold in Europe.

The Natural Cotton case is not only trying to rebuild the value-chain but also to revitalise them by renewing the way they operate. This will be notably done by identifying and promoting R&D results and technical innovations allowing to transform these raw materials using less resources (in water and energy notably) for producing better quality final products and innovative ones, with a recognised market value by the consumers, allowing a better remuneration of those involved in the production process. This revitalisation will also be achieved through the building of more direct connexions between the producers, those using their products and the clients of their clients, Europewide, creating more personalised relationships and interactions, which themselves are expected to contribute to a better understanding of market demands by producers and the enrichment of the consumers’ knowledge of the value and origin of the products they purchase. 

A special issue of the TCBL_zine is under preparation for all of the Business Cases, with publication scheduled for #TCBL_2017 in Athens on June 20th. To access the Call for Papers for the issue on Natural Cotton, click here.

For further information on the Natural Cotton Business Case, contact Thanos Contargyris.

Who's involved

In concrete terms the Natural Cotton case started from the impulse of one associate enterprise of TCBL involved in cotton ginning in Greece. It revealed the existence of cotton of EU origin to the TCBL community and promoted its quality. The first step for implementing the case has been the constitution of a working group composed of associated enterprises of TCBL covering all the steps of the value-chain: providing sustainable cotton seeds to cotton growers, assisting them in obtaining high quality (long fibres) cotton, certifying their production, ginning this cotton, spinning, knitting, designing and confectioning cotton clothes and shops selling them. To map the position of these actors in the value chain the experts of TCBL partners involved in this case experimented the use Orchestrator and BpSquare, and to describe their needs, plans and objectives they experimented the use Strategyzer. This allowed to produce some alternative collaboration proposals to the working group.The group finally decided to work together for putting on the market a new product which will be based on a fully traced production chain from the cotton grower to the final product with certified origin and quality of the cotton fibres used (Greek Certified Sustainable Extra-Long Fibres). This step is under implementation. It already revealed that this is the first time that the members of this value chain work together and have a direct contact with those involved in steps further than the immediate previous and next one. It allowed to identify new needs of knowledge sharing and new dynamics in working together. It will allow to experimentally extend an existing certification scheme for ginned cotton to cotton yarns or threads.

Goals and targets

The working group will be invited to continue its interactions on the Thela platform, where progressively about 15 other TCBL associate members will be invited to join for designing additional experiments, which will integrate in their production or their sales the products made out of this certified of high-quality, sustainable cotton of EU origin. The first product of this cooperation should be available for June 2017 and the requirements on which it will be based will feed specifications in Sqetch platform in view to find other companies or individual, outside of TCBL, involved in the natural cotton value chain to exploit the intermediary or final products of this value chain and join TCBL as simple or associate members in the new Calls of Expression of Interest of 2017.