GENEVA – The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which oversees the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme, has reported that it welcomed 197 new members in the second half of 2020.
Paula Lum Young-Bautil, deputy director, membership and supply chain at BCI, said: “After a challenging year due to COVID-19, it has been incredibly encouraging to see businesses across the cotton supply chain continue to address sustainability challenges and commit to sourcing and supporting more sustainable cotton.”
As many as 170 of the organisation’s new recruits were suppliers and manufacturers – whose engagement with the initiative helps maintain the flow of ‘better cotton’ throughout fashion supply chains – whilst 24 were brands and retailers including New Balance, Reiss, JD Sport and Masai Clothing. A further two organisation’s joined as associate members, and one more became a civil society partner.
BCI’s demand-driven funding model relies on new members, particularly in the form of brand and retail partners, as the commitment of companies to source greater quantities of better cotton in turn leads to increased investment in training for cotton farmers tasked with supplementing demand.
Data published by BCI in November showed that 2.3 million cotton farmers spanning 23 countries were trained in more sustainable farming methods during the 2018/19 cotton season.
Whilst training helps mitigate the environmental impacts of cotton harvesting, it’s also proven financially beneficial to farmers. For example, BCI farmers in India achieved 11 per cent higher yields, while those in Pakistan enjoyed 38 per cent higher profits.
A sign of the times, Koton Magazacilik Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret became the first Turkish brand to partner with BCI in the latter half of 2020. Mrs Gülden Yılmaz, a Koton board member, said: “Sustainability is vital for our business and essential to address our consumers’ changing priorities and needs. We are proud to raise awareness of the initiative and better cotton in Turkey. We aim to source 10 per cent of all our cotton-containing products as better cotton by the first anniversary of our BCI membership (November 2021), rising to 60 per cent over the next five years.”
Through 2020, more than 400 organisations joined BCI, taking the organisation’s total membership to just shy of 2,200 members at the end of the year.