Better Cotton enhances tracking for retailers to trace cotton right back to farms.
In a significant step toward greater transparency in the fashion industry, Better Cotton, the Swiss-based sustainability organization, has introduced advanced tracking features to a widely used platform that enables big retailers to trace the origins of their cotton supplies.
The new functions will provide retailers such as Walmart and Marks and Spencer with detailed insights into the journey of cotton, including its growth and trade locations, with the future prospect of tracing back to individual farms. Previously, the platform was limited to monitoring the aggregate volume of cotton produced.
Founded by a coalition of businesses and nonprofits, including the World Wildlife Fund, Better Cotton is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices in cotton cultivation, such as efficient water use and soil health, while also advocating for improved labor conditions. The group claims support for over 2.2 million farmers worldwide, representing 22% of global cotton production.
The fashion industry is increasingly under pressure from consumers and activist organizations to offer products that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced. In response to such demands and specific concerns, Better Cotton has halted the certification of cotton from China's Xinjiang province, citing human rights concerns and difficulties in conducting audits. This decision comes as Western retailers navigate the complexities of addressing human rights within their supply chains.
The cotton supply chain is complex, involving spinners, traders, and manufacturers. Katharine Beacham, head of materials and sustainability at Marks and Spencer, stated that the retailer plans to utilize the updated platform to enhance traceability and collaborate more effectively with suppliers.
This move by Better Cotton reflects a growing trend in the retail sector: an increased commitment to transparency and responsible sourcing, aiming to align consumer products with the values of sustainability and human rights.
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