The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
is about helping products adopt better management practices in growing cotton. The BCI
is a not-for-profit organisation stewarding the global standards for Better Cotton, and bringing together cotton's complex supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers.
is a capacity building initiative which encourages the adoption of better management practices in cotton cultivation to achieve measurable reductions in key environmental impacts, while improving social and economic benefits for cotton farmers, small and large, worldwide. It is primarily focused on the following:
- Demonstrating the inherent benefits of Better Cotton production, particularly the financial profitability for farmers;
- Reducing the impact of water and pesticide use on human and environmental health;
- Improving soil health and biodiversity;
- Promoting decent working conditions for farming communities and cotton farm workers;
- Facilitating global knowledge exchange on more sustainable cotton production; and
- Increasing the traceability along the cotton supply chain.
M&S became a Pioneer Member of the BCI
in 2009. We also currently hold one of the three seats on the BCI Council reserved for retail and brand member organisations. We are also currently Vice-Chair of the Council. The Council is an elected board whose role it is to ensure that BCI has a clear strategic direction and adequate policy to successfully fulfil its mission.
We also sit on the Buyer and Investor Committee (BIC). The BIC is in charge of linking the demand and supply of Better Cotton and proposing new strategic investments to further increase the programme impact. The Retailer and Brand members in the committee share information about their sourcing regions to shape geographic priorities for the Fund. They also share the lessons learned on their approach towards successfully working with their supply chains on Better Cotton.
Our impact from sourcing Better Cotton:
In 2019, M&S sourced 33,089,094 kg of cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative. This means that over that period:
- An estimated 18 million litres of water were saved
- Over 10,000 kg of pesticides were avoided
- BCI Farmers benefited from an estimated £5.3 million additional profit*
*BCI Farmers experience profit increases due to a variety of reasons, most commonly due to increased yields and/or optimized use of inputs (such as irrigation water, pesticides or synthetic fertilizer).
M&S is committed to BCI
and the majority of our more sustainable cotton meets BCI standards (see above).