- Better Cotton, a London-based nonprofit sustainability initiative, launched a cotton traceability process for the fashion and textile industries earlier this month, the group told Fashion Dive in an emailed release.
- The program will allow participating brands, retailers and suppliers to have improved visibility within their cotton supply chains by asking participants to log transactional information into the Better Cotton Platform, which is a software solution operated by ChainPoint.
- Earlier this year, Better Cotton launched a Chain of Custody Standard, laying out “requirements that suppliers wishing to trade traceable cotton must comply with.” This new platform is designed to help companies track their adherence to those standards.
More than 1,500 retailers, brands, suppliers and other organizations were consulted in the creation of what the organization calls a “first-of-its-kind” traceable platform, per the release. Retailers including H&M Group, Marks & Spencer, Walmart, Target, Bestseller, Gap Inc. and C&A have all invested and participated in the platform’s development, which the organization says took three years to create. These companies will also be the first to have access to the new platform when it’s completed.
“Since 2021, we have been proud partners working with Better Cotton to improve the traceability of cotton and we’re delighted to be able to be part of this first-of-its kind solution which will enable us to track our cotton at scale along the supply chain,” Katharine Beacham, head of materials and sustainability at Marks & Spencer, said in Better Cotton’s release.
No other brands have signed up to use the system, but the organization says any retailer or brand member may source traceable cotton via the new framework for an additional one-time fee, though the price hasn’t been disclosed. The additional fee required to use the platform is meant to cover operational costs and ensure that existing organizational funds are not diverted from field-level activities, per a Better Cotton spokesperson.
Better Cotton’s U.S.-based members include 7 For All Mankind, Deckers Outdoor Corp., Levi Strauss, Lands’ End, Kontoor, Nike, New Balance, Ralph Lauren, PVH Corp. and VF Corp.
Better Cotton says it represents more than one fifth of global cotton production, which it says allows it to deliver traceable cotton at scale.
“Cotton supply chains are particularly complex,” Alan McClay, the organization’s CEO, said in a Nov. 2 blog post. “The geographical journey of the cotton in a t-shirt can span three continents before it reaches the shop floor, often changing hands seven times or more, with agents, intermediaries and traders operating at every stage. And there’s no one clear path — cotton bales from different countries can be spun into the same yarn and sent to multiple different mills to be woven into fabric.”