The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector's future. The goal of BCI is to generate transformative, long-term change in the cotton sector, from field to store, by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.
2015 marked the sixth Better Cotton harvest. Together with our Implementing Partners, we licenced 1.5 million farmers worldwide, who produced 2.6 MT of Better Cotton lint. That’s 11.9% of global cotton production. We saw a 23% increase in participating farmers and a 34% rise in lint, year-on-year. Overall, we are achieving scale in an exceptionally short time, and building the momentum we need to transform the market.
The year was a watershed for BCI, with the Fast Track Programme successfully accomplishing all its objectives before ushering in the Growth & Innovation Fund (GIF). We will maintain a consistent approach throughout this vital transition, thanks to our strategic partnership with IDH and the support of pioneering brands and retailers, civil society and governmental bodies. Their collective action is central to delivering BCI farming projects around the world.
BCI’s membership grew by a further 50% in 2015. And some of the world’s largest retailers and brands publicly communicated their commitments to procuring sustainable cotton. We are proud that our members are acting on the key sustainability issues we see today in cotton farming, including pesticide and fertiliser use, water management and efficiency, gender issues and labour conditions.
We have also begun to review the Better Cotton Standard System, in order to ensure it remains relevant and continues to drive effective improvements at farm level. We aim to complete this process by 2016.
Importantly, BCI is now entering our defining ‘Mainstreaming phase’, designed to establish Better Cotton as a responsible mainstream commodity, accounting for 30% of global cotton production by 2020. In this way, we aim to catalyse positive change throughout the sector, and promote healthy production for future generations.
Finally, I would like to thank BCI’s partners, members and stakeholders for your ongoing support, and I invite both BCI members and the wider cotton industry to join us in this ground-breaking phase of our evolution.
In 2015, BCI successfully completed our ‘Expansion phase’, exceeding targets and reaching 1.6 million farmers worldwide. Here, we share highlights and results from 21 countries on five continents.
BCI membership grew by 50% in 2015, and we enhanced the Better Cotton Tracer to enable the tracking of Better Cotton sourcing from field to store. In this section you can find information on these and other efforts designed to foster demand for Better Cotton.
BCI remains in a strong financial position and continues to move closer to being 100% financially independent. Our priority remains to invest as much as possible in field-level efforts, including training and capacity building. For example, in 2015, BCI and its partners invested nearly €12 million in 70 farm projects across eight countries.
Thanks to the following individuals and organisations who, by supporting and participating in BCI, are driving change:
We invite BCI members and everyone in the cotton sector to join us as we redouble our efforts and establish Better Cotton as a responsible mainstream commodity.
This article appeared in Ecotextile, an environmental magazine for the global textile sector, on 24 February 2015. It highlighted the adidas Group’s achievement in sourcing 30% of its cotton from Better Cotton suppliers.
As part of its ‘Conscious’ initiative, which addresses sustainability issues in fashion, H&M included Better Cotton in some of its in-store marketing in 2015. Signage referring to Better Cotton appeared in stores around the globe along with H&M's committment to sustainably sourced cotton.
IDH published this video in October 2015 to demonstrate the work BCI is doing with farmers and partners in Mozambique. Farmers are trained on techniques to minimise the negative impact of fertilisers and pesticides while caring for water, soil health and natural habitats. They are experiencing the social and economic benefits of implementing the Better Cotton Standard. Play video.
In its 2015 Sustainability Report, IKEA featured its membership to BCI and its commitment to sourcing all of its cotton from more sustainable sources
Levi Strauss & Co praised its supplier Tavex, one of North America’s largest denim fabric mills, for joining BCI. In an ‘Unzipped’ blog post published on 21 April 2015, the company shared that Tavex’s commitment will help Levi in achieving its goal of sourcing nearly 75% of its cotton from Better Cotton suppliers by 2020.
Better Cotton is featured on the Marks & Spencer website along with a commitment to work with farmers who are using less water and fewer pesticides.
Nike, along with US and Australian farmers, WWF, and the Nature Conservancy, explain why BCI’s work is important and how it helps them achieve their own goals related to sustainability. This video was funded by Nike and Cotton Australia for a US stakeholder held in 2015. Play video.
Here, the director of WWF’s Market Transformation Initiative shares the story of BCI’s origins, and the leadership role IKEA has played by investing in farmer training and committing to sourcing Better Cotton. This LinkedIn post was published on 30 October 2015.