Sustainability initiative Better Cotton has updated its principles and criteria as it continues to seek new ways to measure traceability.

It has revised its principles covering management, natural resources, crop protection, fibre quality, decent work and smallholder livelihoods as well as cross-cutting priorities of gender equality and climate change.

In practice, the revised principles and criteria (P&C) will embrace a farmer-centric approach and serve as a more locally relevant standard that addresses the environmental, social and economic matters most pertinent to cotton production today.

They have been reframed to plug key gaps and remove duplicative requirements, learning from previous versions and the experiences of users.

Better Cotton is also continuing to determine the best ways to boost transparency across cotton supply chains. Its latest initiative is a new pilot using traceability technologies from Retraced, TextileGenesis, Haelixa and Tailorlux in India.

Conducted in collaboration with companies including C&A, Marks & Spencer, Target and Walmart, the project will see each technology track cotton as it moves throughout the supplier networks of participating brands and retailers.

The latest revisions to the P&C followed extensive consultations to ensure they best reflect the organisation’s latest focus areas while aligning with global trends towards more sustainable agricultural value chains and market regulations.

The P&C define the organisation’s approach to more sustainable cotton production and establish the requirements farmers must comply with to attain a licence and sell their cotton as “Better Cotton”. At present, more than two million farmers worldwide – from large to smallholder operations – hold a licence.

Alan McClay, chief executive officer at Better Cotton, said: “After an 18-month review process, we’re confident that the revised principles will help cotton-growing communities continue to deliver improvements at field level.

“With a practice-oriented focus, our standard strengthens requirements across both environmental and social topics, and even goes further to encompass farmer livelihoods for the first time.”

Better Cotton members include Absolute Apparel, Belstaff, Carrington Textiles, Fruit of the Loom, Mi Hub including Alexandra, One+All, Premier Clothing, Regatta and Russell Europe.