The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) aims to make global cotton production sustainable. By 2018 the adidas Group has committed to using 100% 'Sustainable Cotton' in all its brands.
The adidas Group is a founding member of the BCI, which works with organisations from across the cotton supply chain and interested stakeholders to address the negative social and environmental impacts of mainstream cotton farming, such as excessive pesticide and water use. BCI's philosophy is to develop a market for a new mainstream commodity - 'Better Cotton' - and thereby transform the cotton sector to bring long-term benefits for the environment, farmers and other people dependent on cotton for their livelihood.
Creating the market
We are not alone in setting a target to use 100% 'Better Cotton'. Other leading brands in the BCI such as IKEA, H&M, Marks and Spencer and Levi's have made a similar commitment. Together we have become part of the Better Cotton Fast Track Programme (BCFT). Our commitment and support can help create the market for this new sustainable cotton.
As members of the BCFT we are financially supporting farmer education, which is what is needed to increase the supply of 'Better Cotton' in the future. The funds pledged by the private partners of the BCFT are matched by the Dutch Sustainable Initiative (IDH), Rabobank and ICCO, an inter-church organisation for development cooperation.
Read more about the Better Cotton Fast Track Programme
Meeting our target
We have set incremental annual targets for the quantity of 'Better Cotton' we will use, starting from 2010, to keep us on track for our target of 100% by 2018. This 'Better Cotton' target is part of our Environmental Strategy 2015.
It is an ambitious target - the first ever harvest of 'Better Cotton' was only in October 2010. And although we have managed to secure some of this first harvest 'Better Cotton', this target is not without its risks. To manage these risks and ensure we can meet our target, we are going beyond engaging with our material suppliers and we are dealing with cotton ginners directly, in cooperation with our material suppliers. This level of engagement helps us understand the challenges and opportunities at each stage of the supply chain.
As part of this initiative, members of our Development and Sourcing teams visited India in 2010. While there they met organic cotton farmers and heard from the regional representative of the BCI.
"What I found fascinating about this visit was seeing the origin of our cotton material and interacting face-to-face with the people who are at the very start of our supply chain," said Philipp Meister from our Apparel Materials Development team.
Ebru Gencoglu from our Sourcing team welcomed the opportunity to hear from the BCI directly: "The presentation and the meeting with BCI gave us all further confidence in this important initiative."
Reflecting on the value to him of engaging more deeply in the supply chain, Philipp concluded: "One takeaway perhaps was that we should also start sharing more information on our brands and products with them to illustrate how they are contributing to the adidas Group's success."