The Traceable Better Cotton solution, which has been three years in the making, is said to offer a comprehensive view of cotton’s journey through the supply chain by documenting stakeholder input on the Better Cotton Platform.

Better Cotton worked closely with a consortium of member retailers and brands, including H&M Group, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Walmart, Target, Bestseller, Gap Inc, and C&A who all played a key role in the development of this solution.

The objective is to allow retailers and brands to gain the confidence to source products from specific countries while gaining enhanced visibility into their supply chains to support their due diligence activities.

Katharine Beacham, head of materials and sustainability at M&S explains: “Since 2021, we have been proud partners working with Better Cotton to improve the traceability of cotton and we’re delighted to be able to be part of this first-of-its-kind solution which will enable us to track our cotton at scale along the supply chain.”

In the coming years Better Cotton hopes to expand the availability and granularity of its traceable Better Cotton to:

  • Serve as the foundation for an “Impact Marketplace,” which will compensate cotton farmers for their contributions to field-level progress
  • Enable Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) at the country level to quantify the environmental impact of Better Cotton compared to conventional cotton
  • Provide credible consumer and business-facing claims.

The cotton organisation notes that “Traceable Better Cotton” is defined as the physical Better Cotton within a cotton-containing product that has been tracked throughout the supply chain.

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This is different to its Balance Chain of Custody model, which primarily monitors the volume of cotton produced and ensures it does not exceed the volume of cotton sold.

Alan McClay, CEO of Better Cotton emphasises the significance of traceability at scale for the cotton industry and says: “Better Cotton’s traceability solution is poised to help the industry deliver that shift. Never before has transparency been as imperative as it is now to our retail and brand members. We’re grateful to every organisation that has helped shape the development of the Better Cotton Platform and stand committed to its constant improvement.”

Earlier this year, Better Cotton introduced a Chain of Custody Standard, outlining the requirements for suppliers wishing to trade traceable cotton.

Using the Better Cotton Platform, operated by software company ChainPoint, suppliers can record transactional data, offering transparency about the origins of Better Cotton and the quantity incorporated into a product, spanning from the cotton ginning stage to the final retailer or brand.