In the last section of the guide, we explored some of the sustainability benefits from across the different sourcing options. Here, we explore a few technical considerations that buyers may need to know to practically source within your organisation’s selected programmes.


You can view the table below or download it for use offline

To go back to the table outlining the different standards’ approaches to sustainability issues, click here.

Click the logo for full profile information


To transform the market by making Better Cotton a sustainable mainstream commodity.

Sustainable African Cotton for a global Textile Industry.

To make trade fair, empower small scale producers and workers and to foster sustainable livelihoods.

To produce high quality, high yielding fibre while sustaining the natural environment, people and regional communities.

Sustaining the health of soils, ecosystems and people.


BCI sets out to improve the sustainability of mainstream cotton production. Growers must meet minimum environmental and social requirements for their cotton to qualify as Better Cotton. Continuous improvement is a key element of the Assurance Programme.

Cotton made in Africa is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) that helps African smallholder cotton farmers to improve their living conditions. Growers must meet minimum environmental and social requirements for their cotton to qualify as CmiA.

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers. The Fairtrade standards require farmers to organize in democratic producer organizations and environmentally sound agricultural practices. It ensures the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium.

The myBMP (Best Management Practices) program is the Australian cotton industry’s environmental and social standard. To achieve full certification, growers must comply with over 400 checklist items across 10 modules including soil health, water management, natural assets, pest management, energy efficiency and worker health and safety.

Organic cotton is grown within a rotation system that builds soil fertility, protects biodiversity, and is grown without the use of any synthetic chemicals or GMOs. Growers must meet organic agricultural standards as set nationally, and by the importing country if export is carried out. Definition: organiclandmarks/definition-organic-agriculture

Producing Countries (2015/16 unless otherwise stated)

China, India, Israel, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Tajikistan, Turkey, USA – PLUS Benchmarked standards in an additional 11 countries

Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Burkina Faso, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Senegal, Uganda


Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Isreal, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, USA

Fiber Production 2015/16 (MT)






Market Share of Total Cotton Grown (2015/16)

11.93% (2015)





Growth in production (2014/15 - 2015/16)

28% increase

18% decrease

190% increase

79% increase

4% decrease

Projected growth in production

Target to account for 30% total cotton by 2020

Projected increase

Projected increase

Projected increase

Projected to increase (85,671 ha in-conversion 2015/16- 2017/18)

Chain of Custody (supply chain)

Physical segregation farm to gin; mass balance gin to retailer.

Mass Balance from spinning mill onward (hard identity from field to spinning mill); full traceability possible through Hard Identity Preserved (option).

Two models: (1) Classic – physically segregated and traceable, (2) Mass balance – physically traceable until spinner; CoC maintained through supply chain via online tool.

Physical segregation and tracing possible, unique barcode identifier on every bale tracking field to spinning mill

Identity Preserved; Certification of Supply Chain.

Product marketing / labeling

Better Cotton Claims Framework

In store marketing/ on product labeling (own label or CmiA hangtag).

On product and In store marketing. Third party certified (Fairtrade Mark).

In store marketing and on- product label (own label or Australian cotton swingtag)

In store marketing/ on product label. 3rd party certification label optional.

Consumer recognition

Consumer messaging began in 2015.

13% awareness among German consumers (measured Aug 2016).

Fairtrade mark widely understood and trusted by consumers.

Higher levels of awareness in Australia

Concept of organic widely understood, trusted and respected by consumers.

Cost implications / impacts

No fixed price differential at point of sourcing but membership and volume-based fees apply

No membership fee but retailers/brands pay a volumebased fee and spinning mills pay a small annual registration fee.

Price differential (Fairtrade Minimum Price). Buyers also pay Fairtrade Premium for community investment.

No price differential at point of sourcing, no membership or licensing fees

Price differential paid to farmer/producer group

Quality perception / implications

No quality implications.

Historical perceptions of quality being an issue – but not so much these days.

Historical perceptions of quality being an issue – but not so much these days.

Consistently very high quality, amongst highest in the world across all parameters

Historical perceptions of quality being an issue – but not so much these days.

In future versions of this guide, we will include more information on recycled cotton standards and options. In the meantime, please visit the Textile Exchange website.

WordPress Video Lightbox