30 Nov

Better Cotton Initiative

What is the Better Cotton Initiative?

Cotton is used in 40% of textiles globally and more than 300 million producers, in 80 different countries, rely on it for their livelihoods. That’s when the Better Cotton Initiative comes in: its aim is to ensure that global cotton production is better for the people who produce it.

To achieve its mission, the organisation works with a diverse range of players across the cotton supply chain, promoting measurable and continuing improvements for the farming communities and the economies of cotton-producing areas.

The Better Cotton Initiative has four aims:

  • Reduce the environmental impact of cotton production
  • Improve livelihoods and economic development in cotton producing areas
  • Improve commitment to and flow of Better Cotton throughout supply chain
  • Ensure the credibility and sustainability of the Better Cotton Initiative

While undoubtedly enabling more people in more places to produce better cotton, BCI has been subject criticism. A key point is that that unlike the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), BCI has not completely phased out the use of pesticides yet and also hasn’t excluded Genetically Modified cotton. What’s more, and unlike Fairtrade, BCI does not secure a price premium for cotton farmers; there is also no mechanism to protect farmers against price volatility.

A brief history of the Better Cotton Initiative

The Better Cotton Initiative was founded in 2005, as part of a ‘round table’ organised by WWF and supported by a major organisations like Adidas and Oxfam.

In 2009 the organisation became independent, and  published the first Better Cotton global standards known as the Better Cotton Production Principles and Criteria, the cornerstone of the Better Cotton Standard System.

By 2020 the initiative anticipates that Better Cotton will “be recognised as a mainstream sustainable commodity, with the Better Cotton Standard System part of day-to-day business in the cotton sector, and with supply and demand driven by the momentum of the market”. It aims to have five million Better Cotton farmers, producing 8.2 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton by 2020, representing around 30% of global production.

Some Better Cotton members we rated

Mud Jeans (Great)

Adidas  (Great)

Reebok (Great)

Useful links

To learn more about the Better Cotton Initiative, visit: https://bettercotton.org/about-bci/

To find more Better Cotton Initiative members, visit: https://bettercotton.org/find-members/

Editor's note: Feature image via Unsplash.

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