More than 350 brands sourced a record-breaking 736,000 metric tons of “Better Cotton” in 2017 produced under the auspices of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), considered the largest cotton sustainability program in the world.
In the 2016-17 cotton season, BCI, together with its partners, also provided training on more sustainable agricultural practices to 1.6 million farmers in 23 countries. Better Cotton now accounts for roughly 15 percent of global cotton production. BCI said its goal is to train 5 million farmers worldwide on more sustainable agricultural practices by 2020 and account for 30 percent of global cotton production.
The cotton organization said committed brands have significantly contributed to the dramatic growth of Better Cotton during the past eight years, supporting market transformation by integrating Better Cotton into their raw material strategies and driving demand for more sustainable cotton production.
In a review of its retailer and brand members, BCI released a list of the top 15 based on “absolute sourcing of cotton as Better Cotton.”
Topping the list is retailer Hennes & Mauritz, followed by Ikea, Adidas, Gap Inc. and Nike Inc. in the top five. Levi Strauss & Co., C&A, Decathlon, VF Corp. and Bestseller rounded out the top 10, followed by PVH Corp., Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Puma and Varner Retail.
BCI noted that Adidas—which has been working steadily to meet a 100 percent Better Cotton sourcing target by 2018—sourced more than 90 percent of its cotton as Better Cotton in 2017. Decathlon, Hemtex, Ikea and Stadium sourced more than 75 percent of their cotton as Better Cotton.
BCI recently announced new members had joined the organization during the third quarter, including: Action Service & Distributie B.V. and Nederlandse dassenfabriek Micro Verkoop B.V. of the Netherlands, Deckers Outdoor Corp. of the U.S., Spain’s El Corte Inglés and the U.K.’s J P Boden Ltd.
The initiative also welcomed Gram Unnati Foundation of India as the newest BCI Civil Society Member. As of the end of the quarter, more than 190 new organizations have joined BCI this year, taking total membership to more than 1,390.
BCI retailer and brand members pay BCI a fee based on the amount of cotton they source as Better Cotton. This fee is invested in training an estimated 2 million BCI farmers on more sustainable agricultural practices like reducing inputs and addressing gender equality and child labor issues.
Meanwhile, the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, managed in partnership with the Sustainable Trade Initiative, said it invested 9.4 million euros ($10.6 million) in the 2017-2018 season into more sustainable cotton farming practices in China, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan and Turkey, reaching and training more than 1 million cotton farmers.