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Better Cotton Uptake Tops 1 Million Metric Tons

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) saw record levels of uptake in 2018, as 93 retail and brand members sourced more than 1 million metric tons of its sustainably grown cotton–enough to make 1.5 billion pairs of jeans.

That usage of Better Cotton represented a 45 percent increase from the previous year and led to Better Cotton accounting for 4 percent of global cotton consumption. BCI said by integrating Better Cotton into their sustainable sourcing strategies and increasing sourcing commitments, its members are driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide.

To meet BCI’s 2020 targets of training 5 million cotton farmers and having Better Cotton account for 30 percent of global cotton production (in the current season, Better Cotton is forecast to account for 19 percent of global cotton production) the organization said it needs the next wave of sustainably oriented companies to join in.

H&M, a founding BCI member, sourced the largest volume of Better Cotton for the third straight year.

“Cotton is one of H&M group’s most important materials… [and] BCI plays a key role in our goal toward using only sustainably sourced cotton by 2020,” Mattias Bodin, sustainability business expert for materials and innovation at H&M, said.

Adidas reported that it sourced only sustainable cotton in 2018. Ebru Gencoglu, senior manager of merchandising and sustainability at Adidas, said the company worked closely with BCI to reach this goal.

“BCI has engaged actors throughout the supply chain to enable the right amount of supply in the right locations,” Gencoglu said. “This has helped our suppliers to source cotton as Better Cotton, which allowed us to ramp up sourcing in a short period of time.”

BCI’s demand-driven funding model means that by companies sourcing its cotton, it increases investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices. In the 2017-18 season, BCI members, public donors and the Sustainable Trade Initiative contributed more than 6.4 million euros ($7.16 million), enabling more than 1 million farmers in China, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Senegal to receive support and training.

Gap Inc., which joined BCI in 2016, and is now among the top five BCI members based on total sourcing volumes. Agata Smeets, director of sustainability sourcing strategy at Gap Inc., said, “We have been able to leverage our scale across our portfolio of brands to accelerate sourcing of Better Cotton in a relatively short time.”

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