Better Cotton, the sustainability initiative for cotton, has gathered a group of international retailers and brands to enable the delivery of new traceability solutions and bring greater visibility to the cotton supply chain.
The panel has pulled together an initial £1m tranche of funding. It will work with suppliers, NGOs and independent experts in supply chain assurance to develop an approach that meets the pressing needs of industry today.
Traceability within the cotton supply chain will soon become a market “must” with international legislators to toughen rules. New rules presented this March by the European Commission aim to better protect consumers against false environmental claims and introduce a ban on greenwashing.
Alan McClay, CEO at Better Cotton said: “The Better Cotton Traceability Panel will address all aspects of the cotton supply chain, from farmers in the field through production to the consumer. Better Cotton has gathered input from over 1,500 organisations so far who have made it clear that traceability is business-critical across the whole industry but also that retailers and brands need to integrate sustainability and traceability into their standard business practices. Findings from this research highlighted that 84% indicated a business ‘need to know’ where the cotton in their products was grown. In fact, 4 in 5 suppliers surveyed sought the benefit of an enhanced traceability system. Currently only 15% of apparel companies claim to have full visibility of the raw materials that go into their products according to a recent study by KPMG.”
Specifically Better Cotton and the new panel will provide substantial investment to:
- Further develop existing farm to gin tracing arrangements to underpin physical traceability
- Build on its existing trading platform tracking movement of a quarter of the world’s cotton through 8000 organisations. Fully trace any of the cotton that enters the system within a few years.
- Use different technology solutions and credibility arrangements to clearly distinguish country of origin initially and environmental and social practices by growers eventually.
- Create new market mechanisms that bring value for farmers.
- Focus on farmers – both big and small – providing training, ensuring proper working conditions, helping them access preferential financing and securing their ability to enter international value chains.
Better Cotton and its partners have also trained over 2.5 million farmers in 25 countries, having raised €99 million since 2010 to fund capacity building and other field-level activities. This is projected to grow to just over €125 million by the 2021- 22 season.