Closing the loop on traceability

BCI is now implementing the final step to establish end-to-end online traceability for Better Cotton products.

In January 2016, BCI added garment manufacturers to its traceability system, the Better Cotton Tracer. This addition marked the completion of ”end-to-end” traceability, allowing BCI to verify the volumes of Better Cotton being sourced by our retailers and brands through products and suppliers from field to store.

The development of the Better Cotton Tracer started in 2013. Initially, ginners, traders, spinners, and retailers and brands were the only supply chain actors to have access to the Tracer. Over a period of less than three years, the system has been developed to include fabric mills, import-export companies, traders of yarns and fabrics, and finally garment manufacturers – so that all actors in the supply chain can now record their transactions.

”The Better Cotton Tracer is the most widely-used and the only end-to-end traceability system of its kind in the cotton industry. Any ginner, merchant, supplier, agent or retailer can use our system no matter where they are located in the world for any Better Cotton-related raw material or finished product: from seed cotton to t-shirts. It is simple, lean and user-friendly, which are the keys for developing a system that could be used by a ginner in Africa, a supplier in Turkey or a retailer in San Francisco with equal ease,” says BCI Supply Chain Manager, Kerem Saral.

End-to-end traceability simplifies the administrative process for Better Cotton sourcing, particularly for retailer and brand members who drive Better Cotton uptake. Having an end-to-end traceability system allows BCI retailer and brand members to receive documentation and information about the volume of Better Cotton they source electronically. Added simplicity for BCI’s members helps to supportourmission ofestablishingBetter Cotton as a responsiblemainstream solution.

The Better Cotton Tracer records how much Better Cotton is sourced by any user in the supply chain. Actors in the supply chain record the number of Better Cotton Claim Units (BCCUs) they received with a product, such as yarn, and allocate these units to the product sold the next actor, such as fabric, so that the amount ”allocated” does not exceed the amount ”received.” Although BCI’s current system does not physically trace Better Cotton through the supply chain, end-to-end traceability strengthens the credibility of Better Cotton claims made by our retailer and brand members.

To learn more about BCI’s Chain of Custody, watch our shortvideo.

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Better Cotton Introduce Fabric Mills to Traceability System

In our effort to continuously drive increased traceability for Better Cotton, we are introducinguser accounts for fabric mills to the Better Cotton Tracer. Initially, this will be run as a pilot. The change will mean that for the first time fabric mills will bepart of the Better Cotton chain of traceability, allowing BCI retailers and brands to trace their cotton purchases more accurately and transparently.

In 2013, BCI, in partnership with ChainPoint, introduced an online traceability platform for use by ginners, spinners and retailers to record purchases and sales of Better Cotton – the Better Cotton Tracer.

The new pilot category gives fabric mills access to the Better Cotton Tracer for one year. This access will allow retailer members of BCI to track the use of Better Cotton more easily as it moves through the supply chain, increasing transparency. In some cases, retailers will have full visibility from field to fabric for the first time. The updates to the system will not yet give the option of “Better Cotton Products,’ but do take BCI one step closer to the possibility of full physical traceability becoming an option for Retailer and Brand Members in 2016.

Ruchira Joshi, BCI Director of Programmes – Demand, says: ”BCI aims to recruit 250 fabric mills as users in 2015, before assessing the success of the fabric millpilot category. We hope that by extending the use of the Better CottonTracer across different actors, BCI will contribute to more trusting relationships between these actors and a more transparent cotton sector as a whole.”


More details are available from BCI’s Membership Team by contacting [email protected]

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Better Cotton launches the online Better Cotton Tracer

In August 2013, following eight months of developing the system, we launched the Better Cotton Tracer (BCT). The BCT is a system used by traders, spinners and retailers to record purchases and sales of Better Cotton. It tracks the movement of Better Cotton volumes as it moves up the supply chain through a centralised system of entering Better Cotton Claim Units (BCCU’s) into a central database. In simple terms, the system checks volumes in and out in every single step of the supply chain.

Training took place at the annual Supply Chain Events inTurkey, Pakistan, India and China. We started to see Better Cotton move through the system in September 2013, and by December 2013, we saw the first activity on the BCT from our Retailer and Brand members.

”It is exciting for us to follow the demand for Better Cotton throughout our supply chain using the Better Cotton Tracer as members declare their purchases and sales of Better Cotton-related products over the new system. It provides us with great insight about the movement of Better Cotton at a global level” says Kerem Saral (BCI Supply Chain Manager).

To read more on our traceability tools, click here.

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