Cotton produced by forced labor is well-documented in at least nine countries, and is currently making its way into the supply chains of major brands and retailers. The issue of forced labor in the cotton industry is rampant and beckons a solution. RSN’s initiative YESS: Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced aims to eradicate forced labor in cotton harvesting and yarn production by enabling yarn spinners to identify and eliminate cotton and yarn produced with forced labor.
While there are numerous projects that engage farmers and factory workers to improve labor conditions, YESS is one of only a few initiatives working directly with spinning mills. Located in the middle of the supply chain, spinning mills are uniquely positioned to identify cotton produced with forced labor and prevent it from entering corporate supply chains. This initiative identifies a gap in transparency between where forced labor occurs in the cotton fields and the facilities in which different cottons are blended and spun together. YESS aims to close this gap by establishing a training, assessment, and verification process for yarn spinning mills. Identifying and addressing the forced and bonded labor of young women in spinning mills in southern India will also be incorporated into this initiative. YESS plans to coordinate its activities with industry-wide sustainable and ethical sourcing platforms.
Major brands and retailers have already endorsed a Statement of Support for this new initiative including Adidas, Woolworths Holdings, and Hudson’s Bay Company, parent of Saks Fifth Avenue. YESS will assist companies in complying with new anti-slavery regulations, minimizing verification costs, establishing an industry-wide traceability approach, and managing a global list of verified spinners. A full list of endorsements can be found here.
To learn more about this initiative, read the YESS two-page overview, view the Slide Presentation, and check out the YESS infographic. RSN is continuing to accept endorsements for the YESS Statement of Support from brands, NGOs, and other stakeholders. For more information, contact [email protected].