Chain of Custody Traceability
Photo Credit: Better Cotton/Eugénie Bacher. Harran, Turkey, 2022. Better Cotton bales, Mehmet Kızılkaya Tekstil.
  • Better Cotton represents more than one fifth of global cotton production, enabling traceable cotton to be delivered at scale
  • Traceability will provide retailers and brands with improved visibility of their supply chains
  • Marks & Spencer and Walmart – in addition to more than 1,500 organisations – were consulted and informed the solution’s development
  • Traceable Better Cotton will lead to the launch of an Impact Marketplace, allowing retailers and brands to offer cotton farmers financial rewards

Better Cotton has today officially launched a first-of-its-kind traceability solution for the fashion and textile sectors. 

The solution has been developed over three years and will provide visibility of cotton’s journey through the supply chain by logging stakeholder input on the Better Cotton Platform. 

The organisation has worked closely with a network of member retailers and brands, including H&M Group, Marks & Spencer, Walmart, Target, Bestseller, Gap Inc and C&A, to ensure that fashion companies can accurately trace and disclose the origin of raw materials, and comply with emerging regulations.   

Companies are now increasingly expected to verify the origin of the raw materials within their products and leverage improved transparency to address the potential adverse effects of their activities on human rights and the environment.  

Traceable Better Cotton will give member retailers and brands confidence that they are sourcing product from a specific country, and establish greater supply chain visibility, enabling them to incorporate insights into their own supply chain due diligence activities.  

In the coming years, Better Cotton will scale the availability and sourcing granularity of traceable Better Cotton to: 

  • serve as the foundation for an Impact Marketplace that would compensate farmers for field-level progress; 
  • enable country-level Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to calculate the environmental impact of Better Cotton in relation to conventional cotton;  
  • provide credible consumer and business-facing claims. 

Traceable Better Cotton is defined as the ‘physical’ Better Cotton within a cotton-containing product that has been tracked through the supply chain. It differs from Better Cotton’s long-standing Mass Balance Chain of Custody model, which tracks the volume of cotton produced and ensures this never exceeds the volume of cotton sold. 

Better Cotton launched a Chain of Custody Standard earlier this year, outlining requirements that suppliers wishing to trade traceable cotton must comply with.  

Using the Better Cotton Platform – operated by the software company ChainPoint – suppliers will log transactional information, culminating in visibility of where Better Cotton has originated from and how much is within a product. Traceability will span the cotton ginning stage right through to the retailer or brand. 

Traceability at scale for cotton will drive a seismic shift within our industry’s supply chains. Better Cotton’s traceability solution is poised to help the industry deliver that shift. Never before has transparency been as imperative as it is now to our retail and brand members. We’re grateful to every organisation that has helped shape the development of the Better Cotton Platform and stand committed to its constant improvement.

At M&S, 100% of the cotton we source for our clothing comes from more responsible sources, however, across the industry the global supply chain remains particularly complex. Since 2021, we have been proud partners working with Better Cotton to improve the traceability of cotton and we’re delighted to be able to be part of this first-of-its kind solution which will enable us to track our cotton at scale along the supply chain.

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