Better Cotton Members Lead on More Sustainable Cotton Sourcing

Committed BCI Retailer and Brand Members have significantly contributed to the dramatic growth of Better Cotton over the past eight years, helping to drive BCI towards its 2020 target of having Better Cotton account for 30% of global cotton production. They are supporting market transformation by integrating Better Cotton into their raw materials strategies and driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide.

While all BCI Retailer and Brand Members are contributing to the sustainable future of cotton, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the leaders.

In 2017, 71 BCI Retailer and Brand Members sourced a record-breaking 736,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton. The following members are the top 15 (in descending order) based on their total Better Cotton sourcing volumes in the 2017 calendar year1. Together they sourced a significant proportion of the total volume of Better Cotton.

1. Hennes & Mauritz AB

2. Ikea Supply AG

3. adidas AG

4. Gap Inc.

5. Nike, Inc.

6. Levi Strauss & Co.

7. C&A AG

8. Decathlon SA

9. VF Corporation

10. Bestseller

11. PVH Corp.

12. Marks and Spencer PLC

13. Tesco Clothing


15. Varner Retail AS

In addition to considering total volume, the percentage of a company’s overall portfolio of more sustainable cotton is also important. For some retailers and brands, Better Cotton accounts for a substantial percentage of their total cotton sourcing. adidas AG – who have been steadily working to meet a 100% Better Cotton sourcing target by 2018 – sourced more than 90% of their cotton as Better Cotton in 2017. DECATHLON SA, Hemtex AB, Ikea Supply AG and Stadium AB sourced more than 75% of their cotton as Better Cotton1.

We would also like to highlight the “fastest movers’ of 2017 – adidas AG, ASOS, DECATHLON SA, Gap Inc., Gina Tricot AB, G-Star RAW C.V., HEMA B.V., Hennes & Mauritz AB, IdKIds Sas, Just Brands B.V., KappAhl Sverige AB, KID Interi√∏r AS, MQ Holding AB and Varner Retail AS. These retailers and brands increased their volumes of cotton sourced as Better Cotton by the highest number of percentage points compared to the previous year (2016).

BCI’s demand-driven funding model means that retailer and brand sourcing of Better Cotton directly translates to increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices. In the 2017-18 cotton season, BCI Retailer and Brand Members contributed more than ‚Ǩ6.4 million enabling more than 1 million farmers across China, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Senegal to receive support and training*. Visit Stories from the Field on the BCI website to learn first-hand from farmers about the benefits they are experiencing from implementing the Better Cotton Standard System.

Please visit the Better Cotton Leaderboard on the BCI website for more information. Here you will find a list of all the retailers and brands that contributed to the collective demand for 736,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton in 2017, along with the leading cotton traders and mills in terms of volumes of Better Cotton sourced.

Transforming cotton production worldwide requires commitment and collaboration. We are proud to be working together with all BCI Members and Partners to create a more sustainable sector.

*While the investment from BCI Retailer and Brand Members (mobilised through the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund) reached over one million farmers in the 2017-2018 season, the Better Cotton Initiativeis forecast to reach and train a total of 1.7 million cotton farmers in the season. The final figures will be released in BCI’s 2018 Annual Report.

[1]By “sourcing cotton as Better Cotton,’ BCI is referring to the action taken by members when they place orders for cotton-containing products. It does not refer to the cotton present in the finished product. BCI uses a chain of custody model called Mass Balance whereby volumes of Better Cotton are tracked on an online sourcing platform. Better Cotton may be mixed with or replaced by conventional cotton in its journey from field to product, however, the volumes of Better Cotton claimed by members on the online platform never exceeds the volumes physically procured by spinners and traders.
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Better Cotton Retailer and Brand Members Lead the Way in Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017

Released on Monday, the Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017 reveals that BCI Retailer and Brand Members C&A, H&M and M&S have joined IKEA as “frontrunners’ in the Sustainable Cotton Ranking 2017.

BCI Civil Society Members Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK), Solidaridad and WWF share a vision for a more sustainable cotton sector. In the second Sustainable Cotton Ranking report, they assessed the performance of 75 of the largest cotton-using companies, up from 37 companies in 2016. Companies were scored and ranked on uptake of more sustainable cotton, policy and transparency.

The report notes that cultivation of more sustainable cotton has never been higher, reaching 2.6 million tonnes in 2015/16 and representing around 12% – 15% of global cotton supply. Driving this increase are four sustainable cotton cultivation standards:

  • The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which represents the largest share of more sustainable cotton with 2.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of Better Cotton lint produced in 23 countries (2015/16 season).
  • Organic cotton, which represents 112,488 MT of cotton lint produced in 19 countries (2014/15 season).
  • Fairtrade cotton which represents 16,640 MT of cotton lint produced in seven countries (2015/16 season).
  • Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) which represents 320,100 MT of cotton lint, produced in ten African counties (2016).

Of the companies actively sourcing more sustainable cotton, efforts are being driven by five “frontrunners’ – IKEA, Tchibo GmbH, M&S, C&A, and H&M – four of whom are BCI Retailer and Brand Members.

The “frontrunners’ are followed by eight companies which are “well on the way’ to sourcing more sustainable cotton: Adidas AG, Otto Group, Nike, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Woolworths Holdings Ltd, VF Corporation, Tesco PLC and Kering – six of whom are also BCI Retailer and Brand Members. An additional 18 companies are recognised in the ranking as just “starting the journey’, whilst the remaining 44 companies assessed scored no points, having “not begun their journey’ to sourcing more sustainable cotton.

IKEA, C&A and Adidas AG stand out in the report for sourcing more than 50% of the cotton they use as more sustainable cotton.

11 companies have a target for sourcing 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 or earlier: IKEA, C&A, M&S, Tchibo GmbH, H&M, Adidas, Otto, Nike, Inc., Levi Strauss, Woolworths and Decathlon.

Despite the positive uptake from international retailers and increasing supply of more sustainable cotton, the report also highlights that although sustainable cotton accounts for 12% – 15% of total global cotton production, only around a fifth (21%) of this is actively sourced as sustainable, the remaining 79% is traded as conventional cotton.

The gap between available supply of more sustainable cotton and uptake by companies presents a serious risk to the future of more sustainable cotton, yet it also highlights opportunities for companies to accelerate transformation of the cotton market and presents concrete recommendations. Improvements since the first ranking in 2016 are encouraging and show that more companies have policies and public commitments in place and have increased overall uptake.


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