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Ranked: The World’s Top Cotton Producers

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Ranked: The World's Top Cotton Producers

The Top Cotton Producers

Cotton is present in our everyday life, from clothes to coffee strainers, and more recently in masks to control the spread of COVID-19.

As the most-used natural fiber, cotton has become the most important non-food agricultural product. Currently, approximately half of all textiles require cotton fibers.

The above infographic lists the world’s top cotton producers, using data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Fancy Fabric

Originating from the Arabic word “quton,” meaning fancy fabric, cotton is a staple fiber made up of short fibers twisted together to form yarn.

The earliest production of cotton was around 5,000 B.C. in India, and today, around 25 million tons of cotton are produced each year.

Currently, five countries make up around 75% of global cotton production, with China being the world’s biggest producer. The country is responsible for over 23% of global production, with approximately 89 million cotton farmers and part-time workers. Cotton’s importance cannot be understated, as it is the primary input for the Chinese textile industry along with many other nations’ textile industries.

Top Cotton Producers2020/2021 (metric tons)2021/2022 (metric tons)
🇨🇳 China 6,445,0005,835,000
🇮🇳 India6,009,0005,334,000
🇺🇸 United States3,181,0003,815,000
🇧🇷 Brazil2,356,0002,504,000
🇦🇺 Australia610,0001,252,000
🇵🇰 Pakistan 980,0001,306,000
🇹🇷 Turkey631,000827,000
🌐 Other 4,059,0004,282,000
Total24,271,00025,155,000

The United States is the leading global exporter of cotton, exporting three-fourths of its crop with China as the top buyer.

Despite its importance for the global economy, cotton production faces significant sustainability challenges.

The Controversy Over Cotton

Cotton is one of the largest users of water among all agricultural commodities, and production often involves applying pesticides that threaten soil and water quality.

Along with this, production often involves forced and child labor. According to the European Commission, child labor in the cotton supply chain is most common in Africa and Asia, where it comes from small-holder farmers.

In 2020, U.S. apparel maker Patagonia stopped sourcing cotton from the autonomous territory of Xinjiang because of reports about forced labor and other human rights abuses against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.

L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has also committed to eliminating Chinese cotton from its supply chain. Whether these changes in supply chains impact China’s cotton production and its practices, cotton remains essential to materials found across our daily lives.

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Misc

The State of Copper Recycling in the U.S.

This graphic explores how recycling copper can help address the demand for the metal in the U.S.

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The-State-of-Copper-Recycling-in-North-America

The State of Copper Recycling in the U.S.

Copper is essential for a low-carbon economy due to its crucial role in renewable energy technologies.

As a result, many worry that a lack of the metal used in wires and batteries can hurt a transition to a green economy.

In this graphic, our sponsor, the Copper Development Association, explores how recycling can address the demand for copper.

Copper Scrap Recycled in the U.S.

In 2022, the total copper scrap recycled in the U.S. was approximately 830,000 tonnes, equivalent to 32% of the total U.S. copper supply for the same period. Around 670,000 tonnes (81%) originated from pre-consumer sources generated during manufacturing operations, while 160,000 tonnes (19%) came from post-consumer sources, such as obsolete products.

Brass and wire-rod mills accounted for the majority of the copper recycled from scrap (85%). Additionally, smelters, refiners, and ingot makers make 10% and chemical plants, foundries, and other manufacturers around 5%.

Copper from Scrap2022 Content (tonnes)
Brass and wire-rod mills650,000 t
Smelters and refiners40,000 t
Ingot makers39,500 t
Foundries, Other40,000 t

Despite the rising demand for copper, the U.S. predominantly exports its copper scrap.

In 2022, the U.S. exported half of the 1,569,000 tonnes of the copper content generated from scrap. This export trend persisted because, until recent years, the country lacked operating secondary copper smelters capable of processing complex scrap grades into furnace-ready raw materials.

However, reshoring this metal presents an opportunity for the country.

Tapping into the Urban Mine

North America currently has about 86 million tonnes (Mt) of copper in use, known as the Urban Mine. This copper will become available for recycling as aging infrastructure and products reach the end of their service lives:

  • Buildings: 45.4 Mt
  • Infrastructure: 16.1 Mt
  • Consumer Products: 11.2 Mt
  • Transport: 8.5 Mt
  • Industrial Uses: 4.8 Mt

Increased secondary smelting and refining capacity is a crucial building block for a more resilient and self-sufficient U.S. copper supply chain.

In response to the growing need for copper, the U.S. plans to add over 280,000 tonnes of secondary smelting and refining capacity in the next few years. This expansion will enable the country to process more complex scrap grades domestically.

Given that copper products can last for decades, creating a lag time before the material becomes available for recycling, primary production will continue to play an important role in meeting the increasing needs in the U.S.

The Copper Development Association (CDA) brings the value of copper and its alloys to society to address the challenges of today and tomorrow. Visit www.copper.org to learn more about why copper is a critical mineral.

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Why Copper Is Critical for Data Centers

Copper consumption for data centers in North America is estimated to jump from 197,000 tonnes in 2020 to 238,000 tonnes in 2030.

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Copper’s Critical Role in Data Centers

Why Copper Is Critical for Data Centers

Data centers are computer server hubs that collect, store, and process large amounts of data, requiring extensive network infrastructure and electric power supply.

As the North American data center market grows, copper will be a key building block in this infrastructure.

This infographic from the Copper Development Association illustrates the critical role of copper in data center development.

Copper in Technology

Much has been said about the growing demand for critical minerals like copper, nickel, and lithium for clean technologies such as batteries, EVs, solar, and wind power.

Copper, however, has a more extensive role in technology as it is used in wires that connect power grids and data centers around the planet.

As one of the best conductors of electricity, copper maximizes efficiency in the transmission and distribution of electricity. Its thermal conductivity also helps build efficient heat exchangers, which are vital for cooling in data centers.

The inherent ductility and malleability of copper make it ideal for shaping into compact system components, like electrical connectors. In addition, copper can be fully recycled without losing any beneficial properties, providing an excellent solution in a growing green economy.

Data centers use copper across various electrical applications, including:

  • Power cables
  • Busbars
  • Electrical connectors
  • Heat exchangers and sinks
  • Power distribution strips

To put the demand into perspective, Microsoft’s $500 million data center in Chicago required 2,177 tonnes of copper for construction.

North America’s Growing Need for Copper

With the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), the North American data center market is expanding.

North American data center infrastructure is expected to grow from a $33 billion business in 2020 to $70 billion in 2030 and $185 billion in 2040.

This, in turn, will amplify the demand for copper. Copper consumption for data centers is estimated to jump from 197,000 tonnes in 2020 to 238,000 tonnes in 2030 and 293,000 tonnes in 2040.

The Copper Development Association (CDA) brings the value of copper and its alloys to society to address the challenges of today and tomorrow. Visit www.copper.org to learn more about copper’s critical role in data centers.

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