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BCI’s New Advisory Group Aims to Advance Sustainable Cotton Education

In 2019, brands and retailers sourced a record 1.5 million metric tons of Better Cotton–cotton produced by licensed Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) farmers in line with the initiative’s principles and criteria–but that isn’t stopping the cotton sustainability program from furthering its commitment to educating more stakeholders in the industry.

BCI launched an advisory group to provide advice on the development of the Better Cotton Chain of Custody (CoC), a key framework built with the intent to connect demand with Better Cotton supply and help incentivize cotton farmers to adopt more sustainable practices. Comprising BCI members and non-members, the advisory group will ensure any new CoC developments are commercially relevant, feasible and attractive to BCI’s multi-stakeholder membership.

Inditex, Target and Ikea are among the advisory group’s members, as is Turkey-based textile manufacturer Bossa. Additional members include Quarterway Cotton Growers and the World Wildlife Fund.

Non-members within the group include Aminah Ang, head of certification at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Chuck Rogers, Americas director, technical consulting and supply chain solutions at Bureau Veritas Consumer Product Services, a quality assurance and compliance services provider.

Though it’s not a decision-making body, the group will provide strategic advice to the BCI membership and supply chain team.

From 2018 to 2019, BCI provided training to more than 2 million farmers from 23 countries on five continents. BCI reports that these farmers collectively produced 22 percent of the world’s cotton in 2019, up from 19 percent the previous year. BCI still isn’t certain on how close the initiative will come to its 2020 targets, with the company still assessing how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact its efforts throughout the year, according to BCI CEO Alan McClay.

Diesel is the most recent brand to join the Better Cotton Initiative. The Italian denim brand is committed to sourcing at least 50 percent of its cotton as “more responsible cotton” by 2025, including cotton sourced according to BCI standards, recycled cotton, and organic cotton.

Diesel joins brands like 7 For All Mankind, Levi’s and Guess in becoming a BCI member.