BCI History

2005: As part of a ‘round table’ initiative led by WWF which convened world experts on different commodities, different initiatives are born all with the goal of finding more sustainable solutions for farmers, for the environment, and for the future of each sector. The Better Cotton Initiative is one of them, initially supported by a collective of major organisations including adidas, Gap Inc., H&M, ICCO, IFAP, IFC, IKEA, Organic Exchange, Oxfam, PAN UK and WWF.

2007-2009: Preparation Phase. A small BCI team works to generate interest for supply and demand, and secure the interest of organisations across sectors and continents.

2009: BCI is established as an independent organisation, and publishes the first Better Cotton global standards known as the Better Cotton Production Principles and Criteria, the cornerstone of the Better Cotton Standard System.

2009-2010: The Better Cotton Fast Track Program is launched as an independent investment vehicle managed by IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative), to channel funds directly to farmer training and improvement programs.

2010-2012: Implementation Phase. During a key three year start-up phase BCI’s geographical focus is on four regions: Brazil, India, Pakistan and West & Central Africa. These regions include a diversity of climatic conditions, farm sizes, agricultural practices and environmental and social impacts; which help BCI to test the concept of Better Cotton and improve and refine the concept for further expansion. We also explore the process of working with other organisations and countries in partnership to see how the Better Cotton Standard System can be implemented beyond the BCI focus regions in the future.

2010-2011 Harvest Season: The first harvests of Better Cotton take place in Brazil, India, Mali and Pakistan.

2012: Better Cotton is harvested in China.

2013-2015: Expansion Phase. Focusing our efforts on growing supply and demand, by bringing on more members who procure more Better Cotton, and training more farmers to produce the supply. BCI aims to have 1 million Better Cotton farmers producing over 2.5 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton by 2015.

2013: Better Cotton is harvested in Tajikistan, Turkey and Mozambique. The Better Cotton Tracer is launched as an online tracking system for BCI members to record all transactions of Better Cotton across the supply chain. This is the first such system anywhere in the world, tracking a commodity right through the value chain. And an open-ended partnership agreement is signed between BCI and Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA), aligning the two standards so that CmiA cotton can be sold as Better Cotton, helping to increase the global supply of Better Cotton.

2014: A benchmarking agreement is signed with Cotton Australia aligning the myBMP standard, as well as in Brazil aligning the ABR standard. The first harvests of Better Cotton are completed in Australia and Senegal. A pilot project is completed in the USA to help increase global supply of Better Cotton. Updates to the Better Cotton Tracer mean that end-to-end traceability is now possible for Better Cotton in a closed-loop online environment.

2016-2020: Mainstreaming Phase. By 2020 BCI anticipates that Better Cotton will be recognised as a mainstream sustainable commodity, with the Better Cotton Standard System part of day-to-day business in the cotton sector, and with supply and demand driven by the momentum of the market. BCI aims to have 5 million Better Cotton farmers producing 8.2 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton by 2020. That’s around 30% of global cotton production.

Want to be part of getting there? Click here to learn more about becoming a member.