Sustainable cotton nonprofit, the Better Cotton Initiative, said it passed a “historic” level of uptake in the use of sustainably sourced cotton, as 93 retailer and brand members sourced more than one million metric tons of its “Better Cotton” in 2018. That amount of cotton is enough to make almost 1.5 billion pairs of jeans, the organization said.

BCI uptake increased 45 percent on the previous year — and nearing the end of 2018, 4 percent of global cotton consumption could be attributed to retailer and brand member sourcing of Better Cotton. “By integrating Better Cotton into their sustainable sourcing strategies and increasing sourcing commitments year-on-year, BCI’s retailer and brand members are driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide,” the company noted.

Founding BCI member H&M played “an integral role” in the growth of Better Cotton, as the company sourced the largest volume of Better Cotton for the third year running, the organization said. Mattias Bodin, sustainability business expert, materials and innovation at H&M group, said that “Cotton is one of H&M group’s most important materials — BCI plays a key role in our goal towards using only sustainably sourced cotton by 2020.”

gap stores

Better Cotton sourcing “is an important part of Gap Inc.’s sustainability strategy.” 

The organization said that its “demand-driven funding model” enables retailer and brand sourcing of Better Cotton to directly translate into increased investment in training of sustainability practices for cotton farmers: For the 2017-18 cotton season, BCI’s retailer and brand members, along with public donors and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, collectively contributed more than $7.2 million, which facilitated the support and training of more than 1 million farmers across China, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Senegal, the organization said.

And Adidas, another founding member, sourced 100 percent of its cotton as “more sustainable cotton” in 2018, according to BCI. Ebru Gencoglu, senior manager, merchandising and sustainability at Adidas, added, “BCI and Adidas have worked closely from the beginning to reach this ambitious goal. BCI has engaged actors throughout the supply chain to enable the right amount of supply in the right locations. This has helped our suppliers to source cotton as Better Cotton, which allowed us to ramp up sourcing in a short period of time.”

BCI added that Gap Inc. “illustrated how to scale uptake of Better Cotton rapidly,” noting that since the retailer joined BCI in 2016, the company is now among the top five BCI retailer and brand members in regard to total Better Cotton sourcing volumes, the organization said. Agata Smeets, director, sustainability sourcing strategy at Gap Inc., said that Better Cotton sourcing “is an important part of Gap Inc.’s sustainability strategy. We have been able to leverage our scale across our portfolio of brands to accelerate sourcing of Better Cotton in a relatively short time.”

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