November 2, 2023
Switzerland-based sustainability group Better Cotton said Thursday it has added new features to a platform that large retailers use to track materials through their supply chains.
Better Cotton said retailers including Walmart and Marks and Spencer will be able to know where cotton was grown and marketed, eventually down to the level of individual farms. Currently, the platform only tracks the total volume of cotton produced.
Jacky Broomhead, senior manager at Better Cotton, said the current functionality is very similar to that of an electricity customer who knows the generation sources that feed their local grid, but not the individual homes. “The changes mean you’ll know what you’re getting. You’ll be able to see the journey that cotton has taken to you as a retailer,” he said.
Created by businesses and several non-profit organisations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, Better Cotton aims to support better practices in areas such as water and land management and promote better labor standards. It says it supports 2.2 million farmers worldwide, representing 22% of global cotton production.
Fashion retailers face pressure from consumers and activist groups to sell products with lower environmental impact and made under safe working conditions.
Better Cotton has suspended its licenses for cotton from China’s Xinjiang province. At the time he cited factors including human rights concerns and auditing difficulties. Western retailers have faced backlash for raising human rights issues.
Participants in the cotton supply chain include spinners, traders and manufacturers. Marks and Spencer director of materials and sustainability Katharine Beacham said she will use the new functionality to track cotton at scale.
“By improving the traceability of our cotton throughout the supply chain, we can work more closely with our suppliers,” he said.
© Thomson Reuters 2023 All rights reserved.