In 2020, BCI retailer and brand members sourced 1.7m tonnes of Better Cotton

In 2020, BCI retailer and brand members sourced 1.7m tonnes of Better Cotton

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) says its members sourced 13% more Better Cotton in 2020 compared to 2019 sourcing volumes, despite the impacts felt by retail markets due to Covid-19.

BCI engages and brings together the entire cotton sector, from farmers, ginners and spinners to civil society organisations and major global retailers and brands, to establish more sustainable cotton as the norm. Better Cotton often forms a significant part of a retailer's portfolio of more sustainable cotton, which may also include organic, Fairtrade and recycled cotton.

In an update for the full year today (25 February), BCI said its retailer and brand members sourced 1.7m tonnes of Better Cotton in 2020 – a record for BCI and the industry. 

Cecilia Brannsten, environmental sustainability manager at H&M Group, says the fashion retailer wants to lead the change towards circular and climate positive fashion, and one of the key tools to do this is to shift from conventional cotton to cotton sourced in a more sustainable way.

"We have come a long way on this journey and it's positive that an increasing number of companies, including H&M Group, are sourcing more sustainable cotton, including cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative. Contributing to real impact at farm level to help cotton growers to embrace environmentally friendlier, and socially and economically sustainable farming methods is crucial to us and BCI allows us to achieve that."

BCI's demand-driven funding model means that when BCI retailer and brand members source cotton as Better Cotton, it directly translates into increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices, as set out in the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria.

Supplier and manufacturer members also form a critical link between demand and supply of Better Cotton and are committed to sourcing increased volumes year on year. In 2020, spinners sourced 2.7m tonnes of Better Cotton, ensuring there was ample supply available on the global market.

"BCI Members remained focussed on their commitments to sustainability through what was a challenging year," says Paula Lum Young-Bautil, deputy director, membership and supply chain, BCI. "From civil society members supporting farmers on protective measures for Covid-19, to commercial members continuing to source Better Cotton, and thereby invest in cotton farming communities, BCI Members were more active and engaged than ever. Now we look ahead to 2021 and supporting even more ambitious sourcing plans from our growing membership."

Earlier this month, BCI said it grew its membership last year by nearly 200, including fashion brands and retailers JD Sports, New Balance and Reiss.