Life Cycle Assessment confirms: “CmiA cotton reduces the negative impact on climate change!”
For Ulrike Bos from Fraunhofer Institute and Dr. Susanne Neubert from the Centre for Rural Development (SLE) at the Humboldt University of Berlin/Germany, one thing is certain: “The cultivation of CmiA cotton has less impact on the environment compared to conventional and irrigated cotton. The low amount of efficiently used resources and production facilities makes it possible to minimize greenhouse gas emissions that result from cotton production. Thanks to rain fed agriculture, a tremendous amount of water can also be saved.” Their review confirms the results of Cotton made in Africa’s (CmiA) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), conducted by PE INTERNATIONAL according to the ISO 14040 standard.
CmiA cotton has shown to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. CmiA cotton emits up to 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of cotton fiber than conventional cotton. According to the study results, CmiA emits only a 1.04 kg CO2 equivalent level in comparison to 1.8 kg CO2/kg for conventional cotton. As CmiA cotton is exclusively cultivated with rainwater, CmiA saves more than 2,100 liters of water per kilogram of cotton fiber compared to the global average.
“The second life cycle assessment of Cotton made in Africa is our response to the growing interest among consumers and businesses in the environmental impacts of the production of goods such as textiles,” explains Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. The foundation commissioned the world-renowned sustainability and software company PE INTERNATIONAL to review all the relevant production steps involved in CmiA cotton, from cultivation to ginning in the factory, in accordance with standardized methods of life cycle assessments. “With the publication of this study, we are pleased to be able to once again confirm the positive environmental impact of Cotton made in Africa. This enables us to provide manufacturers and consumers with useful facts with which the environmental impacts of Cotton made in Africa with cotton from other sources and other materials can be compared,” Stridde adds.
The result of the Life Cycle Assessment substantiates the ecological added value of CmiA cotton and confirms the positive LCA from the study on the ecological footprint conducted by Systain Consulting in 2013. For this second study, PE INTERNATIONAL used two climatically representative growing regions: Côte d’Ivoire in western Africa and Zambia in southern Africa. Due to the different scope and objectives of the two studies, the absolute figures of the results differ slightly from each other. To ensure the highest standards in terms of quality and credibility, liability and ISO standard, both Ulrike Bos from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Southern Germany, who is an expert in LCA of renewable raw materials and Dr. Susanne Neubert from the Centre of Rural Development (SLE) at the Humboldt University of Berlin/Germany, who is an expert in the fields of agricultural sciences and cotton production in the socio-economic and environmental context of Africa, reviewed the LCA prepared by PE INTERNATIONAL as independent third parties. The plan for the future is to extend the studies to other regions and harvest cycles.
Methodology: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an effective aid when comparing different systems because it systematically analyzes the environmental impacts of products, processes, or services along the entire life cycle of a product. This includes all environmental impacts resulting from the production as well as those preceding and subsequent processes involved, such as manufacturing the raw materials and supplies. Life cycle assessments are used as a standardized tool to quantitatively investigate potential environmental impacts at the product level. Their methodology is also based on analyzing the efficiency of resource use. ISO 14040 defines the steps and documentation needed to perform an ISO-compliant life cycle assessment.
 Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in CO2 equivalents. In addition to CO2, the emissions also include N2O and CH4, among others.