Better Cotton has brought together a group of global fashion companies and retailers to spend GBP1 million (US$1.27 million) in a bid to develop innovative traceability solutions and improve visibility in the cotton supply chain. Bestseller, M&S, and Zalando are among the brands represented on the new traceability panel.
The traceability panel will collaborate with suppliers, NGOs, and independent supply chain assurance specialists to build a solution that satisfies the industry's current demands. It will cover every part of the cotton supply chain, from the field to the factory to the consumer.
Better Cotton has received feedback from over 1,500 organizations, who have stated that not only is traceability important for the entire sector but that retailers and brands must also include sustainability and traceability into their normal business operations. According to the findings of this study, 84 percent of businesses stated that they 'need to know where the cotton in their products was grown. In fact, four out of five suppliers polled said they wanted a better traceability system. According to a recent KPMG survey, only 15% of garment firms claim to have a complete awareness of the raw materials used in their goods.
The traceability panel was established after the EU Commission adopted a proposal on due diligence at the end of February. Clothing brands selling and operating within the bloc will be held accountable for the impact of their activities on the environment and people working in their supply chains as a result of the directive.
Alan McClay, CEO of Better Cotton said that many fashion shops just don't know where the cotton in their products originates from. There are numerous, and in many situations, valid reasons for not knowing. This panel on traceability is a significant step in addressing the causes of the inability to trace back to the source. They plan to tackle issues like sourcing and intellectual property front on. Higher supply chain assurance comes at a cost - establishing the actual origins of a garment necessitates more checks and controls – thus additional resources must be invested.
Katharine Beacham, head of materials and sustainability at M&S, said that having worked in conjunction with Better Cotton for over a decade, M&S has been at the forefront of obtaining more responsible cotton. In 2019, they achieved their goal of using 100% responsibly sourced cotton in their clothes, but there is still more to be done to increase traceability. They're honored to be a part of Better Cotton's Traceability Panel, which will help the industry advance even faster.
Laura Coppen, head of circularity at Zalando, said that fashion consumers are increasingly demanding to know the provenance of their purchases, and at Zalando, they strive to offer this higher degree of transparency to their clients. They’re all aware of how complicated this issue is in the sector, and initiatives like the Better Cotton traceability panel will help to speed up progress – with action to support long-term business success for everyone involved in the supply chain. This includes establishing high goals and ensuring that they are met on a timely basis.
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