BCI: Endorsing a claim for Better Cotton

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), founded in 2009 and initiated by some visionary organisations, including Adidas, H&M, IKEA, Oxfam and WWF, aims to improve the livelihood and economic development in cotton producing areas, reduce the environmental impact of cotton production and secure the future of the sector. It challenges things like damaging crop protection practices, water abuse, diminishing soil fertility and unhealthy practices such as child or forced labour. 

To reach this goal, BCI defines what a better, more sustainable way of growing cotton looks like, and trains and supports farmers to adapt to the corresponding techniques. In 2013, 680,000 farmers produced 905,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton. The goal is to increase these numbers to 5 million and 8.2 million respectively by 2020.

Better Cotton Chain of Custody

To make certain that retailers and brands can be confident in making claims about Better Cotton, BCI introduced Chain of Custody requirements for the supply chain and developed a tracking and tracing system, called Better Cotton Tracer, powered by ChainPoint. This system comprises the supply chain from the ginner all the way to to the retailer. It is a mixture of mass-balance administration and the tracing of so-called “Better Cotton Claim Units” (BCCUs).

The figure below shows a typical supply chain for Better Cotton. Farmers bring their yield to a cotton gin, where cotton fibres are separated from their seeds and then processed into cotton bales. These bales are traded or directly sold to spinners that in turn supply fabric mills with yarn. The fabric is sold and further processed into consumer products, like clothes, which are then delivered to retailers.

Chain of Custody cotton supply chain - ChainPoint
All stakeholders of the Better Cotton supply chain are connected. Using both identity preserved and mass-balance, traceability is achieved from farmer to consumer.

How the Better Cotton Tracer works

In a mass-balance system the volumes of sustainable product are tracked from ginners to the yarn spinners in ChainPoint. The Better Cotton Tracer ensures that a trader cannot sell more Better Cotton to yarn spinners than he acquired from Better Cotton ginners. At the yarn spinner, each kilo of Better Cotton is then swapped into a BCCU. Once the Better Cotton continues its journey through the supply chain as yarn, cloth and the final product, it is accompanied by these BCCUs. At the end, a retailer can trace the BCCUs back to the yarn spinner that issued them, by using the Better Cotton Tracer.

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Cotton to Counter Solution Paper

Textile supply chains face many challenges. The responsibility to solve these challenges continuously moves towards the end of the chain, thereby
mostly affecting brand owners and retailers. For them, the question is how to identify and resolve the hotspots in their supply chain and how to monitor and improve the effectiveness of all supply chain actors. In this solution paper we highlight key challenges and possible solutions.

Download our Cotton to Counter Solution Paper

Transparency from cotton to counter solution paper - ChainPoint
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