Better Cotton Revises its Certification Criteria in Response to Greenwashing Concerns

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
April 25th, 2023
10:29 AM

Better Cotton raises its standards by revising its principles and criteria that farmers must meet to certify their cotton, after having completed its latest eighteen-month review in February.

Better Cotton completed its latest review in February and has modified its list of principles and criteria to consider the responsible use, conservation, and enhancement of natural resources by advocating regenerative agricultural practices.

The organization has revised its principles and criteria that farmers must meet to certify their cotton. The revised principles cover management, natural resources, fiber crop protection, decent work, and smallholder livelihoods. According to Better Cotton CEO Alan McClay, the standard is going to strengthen requirements on both environmental and social issues and even goes further to cover farmers' livelihoods for the first time, with a practice-oriented approach.

The organization completed its latest eighteen-month review in February to bring its standards in line with the renewed principles of Iseal, an organization that certifies other associations such as Better Cotton, Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Fibre Alliance, Textile Exchange, and others. Iseal has published its new code of good practice, which will come into force for licensing from the 2024-2025 season.



Emphasis on Stronger Requirements

Better Cotton notes that the revision of its principles will ensure the responsible use, conservation and enhancement of natural resources by advocating regenerative farming practices, more sustainable crop protection methods and efficient use of water.

On the social side, the revised regulation will put more emphasis on promoting welfare in farming communities, and stronger requirements to ensure decent work, and gender equality. In addition, it adds a new principle: smallholder livelihoods. The document also incorporates a new sub-section on climate change to guide farmers on how best to adapt to the challenges in the field and highlight the best available measures specific to each region.

The modification of the Better Cotton standards comes after a crackdown on greenwashing last year. In June of 2021, the Norwegian Consumer Agency declared the use of the Higg Index label by fashion company Norrøna for its marketing campaigns to be "false and misleading" and the program was suspended internationally. Months earlier, the authorities had already raised concerns about the label with companies such as H&M.

Brussels is also tightening its grip on these practices and last March presented a proposal for a common criterion against eco-laundering. The decree includes measures such as a ban on new sustainability labels or the obligation to carry out independent, scientific analyses to prove environmental claims. The directive still has to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU).



About Better Cotton

The Better Cotton Initiative connects people and organizations in the cotton sector around the world, from field to store. Its goal is to make global cotton production better for the people who grow it, better for the environment in which it grows, and better for the future of the industry. That is why it embraces organizations of all kinds, from farms to fashion and textile brands, and civil society organizations, driving the cotton sector towards sustainability.

The program also has an interesting social component that focuses on defending the rights and quality of life of producers. Better Cotton trains farmers to use water efficiently, care for the soil and natural habitats, reduce the use of the most harmful chemicals, and promote decent work since cotton is grown in areas of the world with great challenges, both environmental and social. When the organization was founded, initial support came from members such as adidas, GAP, H&M, ICCO Cooperation, and IKEA.