Author Archives: abischof

Session 46 – Ecology in wet processing

In Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, a lot of processing plants still struggle with huge problems regarding work safety and process ecology. Although the approach to support the processors as a group to introduce better practise is very promising and good results are available, Solidaridad faces often the challenge that the companies they work with are not used to calculate pay-back times as a basis for investment. There is also some scepticism whether certain best practice would work in local settings,  respectively which advisor one can trust. As Tirupur is also a place where a lot of suppliers with commercial interest can be found.

H&M addresses the topic of ecology in wet processing with minimum requirements the company defined by itself. The cleaner production program (a tool developed with Beco, NCPC Inida) has been introduced to 32 dyeing factories in three different countries.

Huntsman, wants us to consider that the natural dyes as even more polluting than the synthetic ones. Just the area to plant indigo for denim dyeing each year would need the area of the size of Switzerland. Natural dyestuff needs more time in processing and even more water than the synthetic pigments.

A question that remained unsolved was about who has to be blamed as responsible (government and/or the dyestuff company) for selling chemicals to Tirupur’s processing companies, knowing well that they even do not dispose of any waste water treatment.

My vision of the organic cotton market

I hope that it once will come true that organic cotton becomes the accustomed standard.

Whoever wants to have it the other way round has to ask for it in the shops: “Could I have a really dirty produced shirt, please?”

Some facts on cotton production worldwide

In 2008 44 billion US$ were spent on pesticides used in agricultural production. US$ 3 billion were spent in cotton. On less than 3% of the arable land (=cotton production area)  worldwide 6.8% of the herbicides and 16% of the insecticides used were applied in cotton only.

Production of genetically modified cotton has increased tremendously, covered in the season 2008/09 48% of all cotton production area, amounted to 54% of global cotton production and 52% of cotton trade.

Organic Exchange predicts a 21% growth (estimation) in organic cotton production in 2009.

Success factor of co-operation

In session 25 we learned from Veronika Utz, DED an important success factor in co-operation:  working with already committed people and already initiated value chains. Even if the value chain is weak, comittment of the people is very important. Veronika is working with a women producer group in Laos which does craftwork out of organic cotton. The women are very greatfull for the support they get. They for instance conducted a small market survey that helped very much to align their range of products to the demand of consumers. Two business women helped the women group to make their business fit for the market. Today you can already order products from them via an online shop.

Ever heard about the Marrakesh process?

If you think now of the WTO round in Marakech or an judicial proceeding, you’re wrong! The Marrakech process is a 10 years global framework for action on sustainable consumption and production. In session 35 of the WOCO09 Mrs. Eveline Venanzoni, representing the Swiss Federal office  for the Environment FOEN in the Marrakech task force for sustainable public procurement, explained the participative Marrakech process and it’s different stages starting with the conference in Rio in 2002. A famous outcome of this conference is the so called “agenda 21”.

Unfortunately not much people are familiar with the Marakech process due to laking PR. But a ten years plan to bring production and consumption in a vary of aspects towards more sustainability can be commented by all interested people. Just click on the link and find the draft paper at

Global Organic Cotton Community met face-to-face

Logo With the aim to get to know each other (better) and to bring forward ideas for joint activities the first face-to-face meeting of the Global Organic Cotton Community took place this afternoon. Out of the 153 registered members about 50 people met and discussed in small groups on burning issues and potential joint activities as suggested by the community members themselves. Intensive discussions in at least three different languages led the participants of the session to define next steps and to reveal even new ideas.

One group for instance discussed about reduction of certification costs. Here just a few ideas that came up:

  • reduce certification costs by trained local inspectors for organic certification, as most of the certification bodies are located in Europe and therefore (travel) costs for inspection are high
  • bring together organic and fair-trade certification into one certification
  • Try to get more group certifications than individual certification.
  • Harmonize the Internal Control Systems.

It is planned to bring in the new suggestions of the discussion groups into the Global Organic Cotton Community online dialogues. If you aren’t already registered at you might catch up on this as soon as possible.

From you from the World Congress on Organic Cotton

AndreaHello, my name is Andrea Bischof. I’m working at the Organic & Fairtrade Competence Centre of Helvetas. In the next few days I’ll try to bring you some insights out of the congress to you via this blog. I’m very courious about the workshop sessions and the experience of the participants. I think that this congress will offer a great oportunity to exchange and to learn from each other.