BCI Launches New Type of Sustainability Claim for Retailer and Brand Members


Published Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

BCI is pleased to announce a new type of sustainability claim for eligible BCI Retailer and Brand Members. The revised Better Cotton Claims Framework, launched today (19 November), includes new impact claims that demonstrate a member’s contribution to BCI’s global outcomes. The Better Cotton Claims Framework is one of six components of the Better Cotton Standard System and equips members to make credible and positive claims about Better Cotton.

The Framework is an important tool that supports BCI’s efforts to drive demand by building market awareness of the production of Better Cotton in partnership with BCI Members. “We recognise that the need for members to communicate about sustainability is growing and evolving, and that the Framework must evolve in parallel with growing market and consumer demands. We must also give members the guidance they need to report on their achievements in a way that is credible and transparent,” says Eva Benavidez, Senior Communications Manager at BCI.

BCI has developed a method to link farm level results to contributions made by members through their sourcing of Better Cotton. By equating the volumes of Better Cotton sourced by a member in a given season to BCI’s farm level results in relation to water, pesticides and profitability, brands can demonstrate the impact of their sourcing. These claims are based on BCI’s farm level data and make like-for-like comparisons between BCI Farmers and farmers not implementing the Better Cotton Standard System within the same production area and same seasons to arrive at an improvement factor.

The improvement factor is then averaged across countries where BCI operates and multiplied by the quantity of Better Cotton sourced in a year to determine the member contribution. (Learn more about the methodology.) In the context of these claims, BCI means ‘impact’ in the general sense – meaning any effect or change. The effect could be an output, outcome, result, or longer-term impact. An example of one of the new claims is, “Last year, an estimated 15,000 kg of pesticides were avoided thanks to our sourcing of Better Cotton.”

This methodology is the result of consultation with a variety of stakeholders and experts over the past two years. Throughout the analysis and consultation phase, BCI explored and tested a variety of new ways for Retailer and Brand Members to understand the impact of their engagement with BCI, and concretely, the field level outcomes linked with their sourcing of Better Cotton. “Our methodology takes the country farm level results and creates a global average that is then used in the impact claim calculation. We believe that using global averages is currently the most credible approach,” says Eva. A global average demonstrates the valuable pre-competitive contribution members are making to address global sustainability challenges. Also, BCI’s mass balance chain of custody model does not enable verification that members are sourcing from specific countries.

The next chapter of BCI’s impact communications work is to measure and report on change over time. BCI is also working on the development of a tool to measure climate change impact (i.e. emissions of Greenhouse gases as carbon equivalent) among other environmental indicators and plan to create a carbon footprint savings methodology and calculation, which can be factored into a member’s overall company footprinting.

“For this work, we will also be considering how it relates to another BCI Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning project called the Delta Project and the potential for it to be used for government monitoring toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Eva. Through the Delta Project, BCI is partnering with the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) to collaborate and align with key stakeholders across commodities on a core set of farm-level outcome/impact indicators across the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Stay tuned for more on the Delta Project in 2020.

BCI will continue to communicate about our diverse and evolving efforts in the area of impact measurement communications and reporting. “We are encouraged by the progress we are making and look forward to continued collaborations with members, partners and stakeholders to understand and share, in clear and compelling ways, the positive results and changes we are seeing as more and more farmers have access to knowledge, tools and resources on more sustainable agricultural practices,” says Eva.

Access the Better Cotton Claims Framework V2.0.