Better Cotton has this month launched a “first of its kind” traceability solution for the fashion and textile sectors.

The cotton sustainability initiative has spent the last three years developing Better Cotton Platform, which provides visibility of the journey cotton takes through the supply chain by logging stakeholder input.

The organisation, which represents more than one-fifth of global production, says it has worked with a network of more than 1,500 organisations to develop a solution that allows retailers and brands to accurately trace and disclose the origin of raw materials, as well as helping them to comply with emerging regulations.

“Companies are now increasingly expected to verify the origin of the raw materials within their products and leverage improved transparency to address the potential adverse effects of their activities on human rights and the environment,” explained Better Cotton.

“Traceable Better Cotton will give member retailers and brands confidence that they are sourcing product from a specific country, and establish greater supply chain visibility, enabling them to incorporate insights into their own supply chain due diligence activities.”

The organisation hopes to scale the availability and sourcing granularity of traceable Better Cotton over the coming years in order to create the foundation for the Impact Marketplace, which would compensate farmers for field-level progress, as well as to enable country-level Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to calculate the environmental impact of Better Cotton in relation to conventional cotton, and to provide credible consumer and business-facing claims.

“Traceable Better Cotton is defined as the ‘physical’ Better Cotton within a cotton-containing product that has been tracked through the supply chain. It differs from Better Cotton’s long-standing Mass Balance Chain of Custody model, which tracks the volume of cotton produced and ensures this never exceeds the volume of cotton sold.”

Better Cotton launched a Chain of Custody Standard earlier this year, outlining requirements that suppliers wishing to trade traceable cotton must comply with. Using the Better Cotton Platform, suppliers will log transactional information, showing where Better Cotton has come from and how much is in a product. It will cover from the cotton ginning stage right through to the retailer or brand, the organisation added.

“Traceability at scale for cotton will drive a seismic shift within our industry’s supply chains,” commented Alan McClay, Better Cotton’s CEO.

“Better Cotton’s traceability solution is poised to help the industry deliver that shift. Never before has transparency been as imperative as it is now to our retail and brand members. We’re grateful to every organisation that has helped shape the development of the Better Cotton Platform and stand committed to its constant improvement.”