Chain of Custody
The Better Cotton Chain of Custody (CoC) is the key framework that connects demand with supply of Better Cotton and helps to incentivise cotton farmers to adopt more sustainable practices.
The CoC refers to the chronological documentation, paper trail and electronic evidence that relates to the movement of Better Cotton products through the supply chain. This ensures the volume of Better Cotton claimed by BCI Retailer and Brand Members does not exceed the volume of Better Cotton produced by licensed BCI Farmers in any given time period, accounting for conversion rates.
The CoC Guidelines incorporate two different chain of custody models: product segregation between the farm and gin and mass-balance after the gin level. Each model is applicable at a different stage in the supply chain. Learn more below.
Chain of Custody Models
Between the farm and the gin, BCI requires a product segregation CoC model. This means that farmers and ginners need to store, transport and process Better Cotton (seed cotton and lint cotton bales) separately from any conventional cotton. This ensures that all Better Cotton bales produced by participating gins are 100% Better Cotton and can be traced back to licensed BCI Farmers.
After gin level, BCI requires a mass balance CoC model to be implemented. Mass balance is a volume-tracking system that allows Better Cotton to be substituted or mixed with conventional cotton. However, it ensures that the quantity of physical cotton sold with a Better Cotton claim cannot exceed the quantity of cotton purchased with a Better Cotton claim (accounting for relevant conversion rates).
BCI’s mass balance model uses Better Cotton Claim Units (BCCUs) as a designated unit to track the volumes of physical cotton or cotton-containing products associated with a Better Cotton claim. 1 BCCU represents 1 KG of physical Better Cotton lint procured from a gin processing Better Cotton by a merchant or a spinning mill, as a result of an order for Better Cotton products.
Importantly, the post-gin mass-balance system does not require that the BCCUs remain associated with the original physical Better Cotton from licensed BCI Farmers. This means that cotton products can be sold with a Better Cotton claim (and BCCUs associated) but may not contain any physical Better Cotton.
Chain of Custody Guidelines
The revised version of the Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.4 were published in July 2020. The revision focused mainly on minor changes, including removing outdated content, clarifying existing requirements and restructuring the layout. Note that no additional requirements are being added in the new version. BCI’s Chain of Custody model remains the same: product segregation between farm and gin level, and mass balance after gin level.
Chain of Custody Guidelines
The updated Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines are available below, along with a summary of changes and FAQ.
Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.4
(Please note that this is an updated version to correct a few numbering errors, an additional guidance on 3.2.4 and updated conversion factors.)
良好棉花供应链监管原则第1.4版本 (Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.4)
良好棉花供应链监管原则（第1.4版）的主要修改提要文件 (Chain of Custody Guidelines: Summary of Key Changes)
有关新版《良好棉花供应链监管原则（第1.4版）》的常见问题解答 (Chain of Custody Guidelines: FAQ)
- Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.3
- Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.3 Mandarin 良好棉花供应链监管原则第1.3版本(中文版).pdf
- Better Cotton Chain of Custody: Overview (1 pager)
- Better Cotton Chain of Custody: Summary of Changes (PPT)
- Better Cotton Chain of Custody: Summary of Changes (PPT) Mandarin 良好棉花供应链监管原则第1.3版本修订提要
- Archived Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines V1.2
Chain of Custody FAQ
What is the Better Cotton Platform?
The Better Cotton Platform (BCP) is BCI’s online system for tracking purchases and sales of Better Cotton and associated Better Cotton Claim Units (BCCUs). The BCP is a trademarked online system used only by BCI and registered supply chain organisations that are buying, selling, or sourcing Better Cotton. It enables suppliers and manufacturers to report to their customers how much Better Cotton lint was sourced through the sale of a physical product.
What is Mass Balance Chain of Custody?
Mass balance is a chain of custody model based on volume reconciliation. This model allows mixing of certified and non-certified inputs, provided the total volumes are controlled and the amount of certified outputs does not exceed inputs (accounting for conversion rates). The Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines uses a mass balance model for all purchases of Better Cotton after gin level. This allows suppliers and manufacturers to mix equivalent amounts of conventional cotton and Better Cotton, as long as the total volumes are controlled and the total amount of cotton in products sold with a Better Cotton claim is less than or equal to the amount purchased (accounting for conversation rates). In addition, all purchases and sales of Better Cotton must be recorded in the BCP with a corresponding number of BCCUs allocated.
The Better Cotton Platform (BCP) is BCI’s online system for tracking purchases and sales of Better Cotton and BCI orders with associated Better Cotton Claim Units (BCCUs). The BCP is a trademarked system used only by BCI and registered organisations that are buying, selling, or sourcing Better Cotton. It enables suppliers and manufacturers to report to their customers how much Better Cotton lint was sourced through the sale of a physical product. It provides essential documentation for Better Cotton sourced by ginners, and throughout the supply chain to BCI Retailer & Brand Members to demonstrate alignment with the Better Cotton Chain of Custody.
The overall cotton consumption for a specific order of end products is the volume of total cotton lint consumed by the spinner who made the yarns which were used to make the fabrics that went into an end-product. All BCCU allocations made during the sourcing of BCI orders throughout the supply chain eventually support the sourcing of a BCI end product order from a BCI Retailer & Brand Member.
BCI uses two average conversion factors in the BCP to calculate the volume of cotton lint required for each product: one for combed yarn, and another for carded yarn or open-end yarn. However, in 2018 and 2019, BCI carried out research among its members resulting in revised combed and carded conversion factors, and a new one for open-end yarns. You may read the publication that resulted from this research in the BCI Conversion Factors and Multipliers document here. Download the Mandarin translation 棉花消耗量测算：BCI换算系数与乘数 here.
On 4 January 2021, the revised conversion factors will come into effect on the BCP. The following table summarises the change that will take place.
This will lead to the following changes:
It is important to note that the BCP only uses conversion factors for yarns, so relevant for spinning activities. All other conversion factors given in our publication are used by other supply chain actors and retailers and brands to forecast expected Better Cotton Claim Units they need for their BCI orders.
As a result of the updated to the conversion factors, BCP routines used by suppliers and manufacturers will change. You can see the changes in this 7 minute video. A Mandarin translation: 10分钟视频阐明BCP修订后的换算系数 (Video on conversion factors changes in the BCP) is available here.
The Supplier Training Programme and the online training platform are also updated to ensure that users understand the changes. Be sure to join an upcoming training session.
BCI carries out supply chain monitoring and audit activities to help ensure that companies sourcing cotton as Better Cotton comply with the relevant Chain of Custody requirements, as set out in the Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines v1.3.
Reference documents and reporting templates are available below.
The purpose of BCI’s new member-based Chain of Custody Advisory Group is to provide advice on the development of the Better Cotton Chain of Custody (CoC), including projects and activities such as gin monitoring visits and supply chain audits in key Better Cotton producing countries.
Consisting of BCI Members and non-members, the Advisory Group will ensure any new chain of custody developments are commercially relevant, feasible and attractive to BCI’s multi-stakeholder membership. Though it is not a decision-making body for the organisation, the group will provide strategic advice and allow for more focused discussions on the Better Cotton CoC.
Retailers and Brands
- Karen Perry | John Lewis & Partners
- Ethan Barr | Target
- Syed Rizwan Vajahat | IKEA
- German Garcia | Inditex
Suppliers, Manufacturers and Traders
- Philippe Saner | Paul Reinhart AG
- Besim Ozek | Bossa Sanayi ve Ticaret Isletmeleri TAS
- Fawzia Yasmeen | Pahartali Textile and Hosiery Mills
- Todd Straley | Quarterway Cotton Growers
- Melissa Ho & Anis Ragland | WWF
- Anis Ragland | WWF
- Chuck Rogers | Bureau Veritas Consumer Product Services
Download the Terms of Reference.