The Better Cotton Initiative is implementing the final step to establish end-to-end online traceability for its products.
BCI has now added garment manufacturers to its traceability system, known as the Better Cotton Tracer. This addition marked the completion of end-to-end traceability, allowing BCI to verify volumes of Better Cotton being sourced by its retailers and brands through products and suppliers from field to store.
End-to-end traceability simplifies the administrative process for Better Cotton sourcing, particularly for retailer and brand members, the group noted. 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. BCI said this added step for members helps to support its mission of establishing Better Cotton as a responsible mainstream solution.
The Better Cotton Tracer records how much Better Cotton is sourced by any user in the supply chain. Users record the number of Better Cotton Claim Units they received with a product, such as yarn, and allocate these units to the product sold to the next actor, such as fabric, to verify that the Better Cotton is a passing through the supply chain properly. 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 its retail and brand members.
“The Better Cotton Tracer is the most widely used and the only end-to-end traceability system of its kind in the cotton industry,” said BCI supply chain manager Kerem Saral. “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.”
The development of the Better Cotton Tracer started in 2013. Initially, ginners, traders, spinners, retailers and brands were the only supply chain actors to have access to it. Since then, the system has been developed to include fabric mills, import-export companies, traders of yarns and fabrics, and now garment manufacturers, so that all actors in the supply chain can now record their transactions.
The Geneva-based BCI had about 1 million Better Cotton farmers producing more than 2.5 million metric tons last year, representing about 9 percent of global production. BCI has more than 600 members, with companies including G-Star Raw, Thomas Pink Ltd. and Cone Denim joining this year, joining such well-known brands and retailers as Wal-Mart, H&M, Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger.
By 2020, BCI anticipates that Better Cotton will be recognized as a mainstream sustainable commodity. BCI aims to have 5 million Better Cotton farmers producing 8.2 million metric tons of Better Cotton by 2020, which would represent around 30 percent of global cotton production.