Better Cotton aims to make cotton production better for the people who produce it and the environment in which its grown

Better Cotton aims to make cotton production better for the people who produce it and the environment in which it's grown

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) says demand for more sustainable cotton is on the rise, with Swedish retailer H&M and sportswear giants Adidas and Nike leading the field in its 'Better Cotton league'.

H&M topped the ranking, while Adidas and Nike came in third and fourth, respectively. The Swedish fashion retailer, as top Better Cotton consumer on volume, ranks 11th, however, as a percentage of its total cotton sourcing in 2016, due to its size.

Also featuring in the top ten (volume) retailers and brands leading Better Cotton sourcing globally, is jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co, retailers C&A and Marks and Spencer, US apparel giant VF Corp, and PVH-owned Tommy Hilfiger.

Better Cotton aims to make cotton production better for the people who produce it and the environment in which it's grown. According to the group, more than 461,000 metric tonnes of Better Cotton lint were procured by 54 BCI retail and brand members in 2016.

Verified Better Cotton sourcing from BCI Retail and Brand Members generates fees, which are reinvested in farmer training on Better Cotton projects through the BCI Growth and Innovation Fund (BCI GIF). In 2016, the retailer and brand contribution to farmer training exceeded EUR4m (US$4.2m).

But it's not all about the big players; BCI says there has been progress amongst its smaller-sized members. Finnish fashion and textile business Marimekko Group, outdoor brand Kathmandu, and  Danish fashion retailer Bestseller all make BCI's top ten on 'Better Cotton as a percentage of total cotton consumption'. Also included in the list are Adidas, Marks and Spencer, Nike, and Asos.

As highlighted in the BCI Annual Report, globally, Better Cotton was produced in 21 countries over five continents, reached 1.6m farmers, was grown on 3.4m hectares, producing 2.6m metric tonnes of Better Cotton lint.

Better Cotton builds momentum as membership grows 50%

Meanwhile, BCI retail and brand members are setting their sights on doubling their 2016 performance this year to 1,000,000 metric tonnes sourced as Better Cotton lint.

Last month, BCI's global investment vehicle has been awarded EUR2m from Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to support its projects around the world.

Better Cotton fund gets EUR2m from German government