Growing demand for supply chain visibility has created a need for Physical (also known as Traceable) Better Cotton. The revised version of the Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines, renamed the Better Cotton Chain of Custody Standard v1.0, offers both Mass Balance and Physical Chain of Custody (CoC) Models to support the need for Physical Better Cotton whilst also continuing our important work at the farm level.
Transitioning to the Chain of Custody Standard
The Better Cotton CoC Standard was introduced with a 2-year transition period in May 2023.
If you are a current Better Cotton Supplier, you have until 1 May 2025 to transition from the CoC Guidelines v1.4 to the CoC Standard v1.0. All organisations will have to complete the transition by that date, no matter which CoC models they are implementing.
If your organisation is interested in buying and/or selling Physical Better Cotton earlier, you can start your transitioning journey now by completing the Chain of Custody Registration Form from the Better Cotton Platform (BCP).
Better Cotton acknowledges that the transition to the new Standard will require change. To support everyone in this journey, we have developed comprehensive guidance documents as a resource to support consistent implementation of the Better Cotton CoC Standard v1.0.
We have also created additional supporting resources including guidance on how to complete the CoC onboarding process, and a list of additional training. These resources can be found linked below.
I am a Better Cotton Supplier, how can I start transitioning to the CoC Standard?
To be successfully transitioned from the CoC Guidelines v1.4 to the CoC Standard v1.0, all Better Cotton Suppliers will need to go through an onboarding process that includes 5 key steps as seen on the image below.
- Log into your Better Cotton Platform (BCP) and find the CoC Standard Registration Form fom the latest notifications on the main page. Better Cotton has set up different forms for single- and multi-site organisations which are both available from the same online platform.
- Access the Registration Form and liaise within your organisation to ensure that all required information is submitted together with the form. You can also attend optional training to learn more about the Chain of Custody Standard and the BCP by finding a relevant training session here.
- To complete the Registration Form, you will need the following documents ready:
- Proof of your registered business address.
- Relevant documentation to prove the site(s) are certified to sell GOTS, Fairtrade, OCS/CCS, or other standards.
- The site(s) most recent internal audit findings
- Management system scheme certificate(s) (for example, ISO 90001), if any
- Social compliance standard certificate(s), if any
- Please ensure to press ‘Submit’ at the end of your completed form. Better Cotton will then review your submission and assign a risk category. This might mean that you will need a Third-Party Verified assessment prior to onboarding. Read more about this here.
- Once your submission has been processed, you will receive further instructions on how to complete an e-learning course and receive access to the updated BCP.
Please use the following guidance that will help you complete the Registration Form:
How to Complete the Better Cotton CoC Registration Form for Single-site 1,002.23 KB
How to Complete the Better Cotton CoC Registration Form for Multi-Site 186.73 KB
Better Cotton Chain of Custody Standard v1.0 1.57 MB
Better Cotton Chain of Custody: Comparison of CoC Guidelines v1.4 with CoC Standard v1.0 115.18 KB
Better Cotton Chain of Custody Transition FAQs for Suppliers and Members 195.33 KB
Chain of Custody Standard – Onboarded Suppliers and Manufacturers 48.30 KB
Training and Implementation Guidance
If you are a Better Cotton Supplier looking for further guidance on how to complete the transitioning process and implement the CoC Standard, please use the following training opportunities and documents:
Better Cotton Chain of Custody Standard: Implementation Guidance for Suppliers and Manufacturers 1.14 MB
Better Cotton Chain of Custody Standard: Implementation Guidance for Ginners 926.03 KB
Better Cotton Chain of Custody Standard: Implementation Guidance for Traders and Distributors 1.38 MB
What’s new in the Standard v1.0?
The new Standard introduces changes that are designed to make activities simpler and more consistent for supply chains. To make it easier for suppliers to adopt, Better Cotton has:
- Established consistent requirements for documentation, purchasing, material receipt and sales across all CoC models. This will allow the use of multiple CoC models (including Mass Balance) at the same site.
- Expanded management system requirements, to strengthen implementation of the Standard across the supply chain.
- Simplified the Standard to focus solely on CoC requirements. Separate documents will be developed on CoC implementation and monitoring, Retailer and Brand Member claims and Better Cotton Platform (BCP) user manuals.
You can read more about the changes between the CoC Guidelines and CoC Standard from the comparison document under the Key Documents section.
Revision of the Standard
At Better Cotton, we believe in continuous improvement at all levels of our work, including for ourselves and the supply chain. Following extensive research and stakeholder consultation to identify stakeholder needs and CoC models suitable for traceability, the formal revision began in June 2022. The aim of the revision was to research and investigate alternative CoC models that would support the introduction of Physically Traceable Better Cotton alongside Mass Balance.
The revision included surveying 1,500+ Better Cotton suppliers via the Better Cotton Platform (BCP), commissioning two independent research studies, convening an industry task force with Member Suppliers, Retailers and Brands, and multiple stakeholder workshops to assess the appetite for change, and guide our direction of travel.
Better Cotton contracted an external consultancy that drafted a new version of the CoC guidelines with support from Better Cotton staff. Following an internal consultation and review stage, Chain of Custody Standard V0.3 was released for public consultation between 26 September – 25 November 2022, in line with industry good practice.
Better Cotton staff developed an online survey which was released to collect stakeholder feedback in 10 languages. Furthermore, multiple webinars were held to promote the consultation with 496 attendees in total. Better Cotton staff located in Pakistan, India, China, and Turkey led in-person consultation activities with some 91 suppliers, including workshops, interviews and field visits.
The final version of the CoC Standard was approved by the Better Cotton Council in February 2023.
Read more about the Chain of Custody Public Consultation summary here.