LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) is a evaluation of the potential environmental impact and resource utilization of a product, starting at the raw material stage and ending with disposal at the end of the product’s life. A fundamental component of LCA is the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI). An LCI is a quantification of the relevant energy and material inputs and environmental release or emissions data associated with product creation and use. The purpose of this project was to compile a robust and current LCI dataset for global cotton fiber production and textile manufacturing.
Cotton Incorporated completed data-collection and assessment project that established an up-to-date and accurate global baseline for cotton‘s environmental impact. This research is proving to be useful in providing a more accurate characterization of cotton‘s improving footprint in both agricultural production and textile processing. Data from Cotton‘s Life Cycle Inventory was incorporated into a recent study by Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
The study finds that cotton improved on all measures of resource efficiency, with decreases in per pound lint land use (-30%), soil erosion (-68%), irrigation water applied (-75%), energy use (-36%), and greenhouse gas emissions (-30%).