Regenerative Organic

New Organic Label Ups the Ante

Following the success of the organics movement, and in response to several of its shortcomings, this month saw the launch of the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC). Initiated by the Rodale Institute in partnership with Textile Exchange and Patagonia, among others, ROC seeks to take sustainable agriculture to the next level by combining three ambitious sets of benchmarks into one certification: proven organic agricultural practices that regenerate the soil, enhanced animal welfare and social fairness.

While most organic certification schemes focus on mitigating soil damage by preventing erosion and prohibiting synthetic pesticides and herbicides, the Rodale Institute believes we can, and should, aim to improve soil quality by adding nutrients and building up organic matter. This approach would also have positive climate implications as soil is an excellent carbon sink. Soil is so effective, in fact, that a 2014 study by the Institute calculated that if all current farmland and pasture shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO₂ emissions could be sequestered.

ROC is not intended to supplant existing certification schemes, but instead to support them. A company can apply for certification once they’ve attained a recognized organic, animal welfare and fair trade certification, and additionally made the changes ROC requires under each category.

Managing Director with Textile Exchange, LaRhea Pepper, has already noted interest in the apparels market: “there are a number of brands that are welcoming the opportunity to be the tip of the spear in catalysing transformational change in our industry.”

Jonathan Fraenkel-Eidse