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Target, Walmart Join Better Cotton’s India Traceability Test

Better Cotton is working in India with four major international retailers to boost transparency in cotton sourcing with improved traceability.

Using innovative technology from Retraced, TextileGenesis, Haelixa and Tailorlux, Better Cotton will be able to track the fiber through supplier networks of participating brands and retailers.

Retailers involved in the project include C&A, Marks & Spencer, Target and Walmart. It is a move on the part of the advocacy organization to revise its Chain of Custody (CoC) model and help open a window into India’s complex and somewhat splintered supply chains. Better Cotton has one million farmers in India.  

This beginning initiative is designed to provide data that will be assessed and used as a basis for a more sophisticated and elaborate tracing system that will eventually be put into place. Retraced and TextileGenesis are providing digital technology; Haelixa and Tailorlux are tracking additives on a trial basis.

Improved traceability means Better Cotton can apply “mass balance,” a widely used volume tracking system that allows fiber produced under the organization’s standards to be mixed in by traders or spinners to set limits, never exceeding the amount of cotton produced. It also means it can determine the origins of certified materials with greater accuracy. As the traceability network grows, this kind of transparency will allow greater flexibility and visibility of the flow of cotton through the supply chain.

India is one of the largest producers of Better Cotton in the world, and its supply chain is among the most fragmented. The move to make producers more accountable has ramifications worldwide, according to Katharine Beacham, head of materials and sustainability for UK-based Marks & Spencer. “We’re delighted to be building on our partnership and trialing innovative new traceability solutions in India’s cotton supply chains in order to revolutionize the wider industry,” she said.