CmiA Cotton: Complying With the Supply Chain Act


In the textile industry, demand is growing for cotton whose provenance is fully traceable from the beginning to the end of the value chain. CmiA products produced under the Hard Identity Preserved system offer transparency and traceability back to their original regions of cultivation. In Germany, traceability is also becoming increasingly important for brands and retailers to comply with the law for due diligence in supply chains (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz), which came into force on the 1st of January 2023.

Unlike the Mass Balance system, which allows CmiA cotton to be mixed with conventional cotton, the Hard Identity Preserved (HIP) system offers the highest level of traceability. Yarns, fabrics, and textiles produced under the HIP system contain exclusively CmiA-verified cotton, and the textiles are thereby permitted to bear the “Cotton made in Africa Inside” logo.

To trace CmiA cotton, clients and their supply chains use the SCOT/HIP tracking system, originally created by the Aid by Trade Foundation as the Sustainable Cotton Tracker (SCOT).

The user-friendly interface of SCOT/HIP makes it easier for companies to maintain an overview of their supply chains and to fulfil the criteria set by international transparency regulations. Designed in 2021 for the Mass Balance system, the tracking system now also ensures that products produced under the HIP system conform to statutory requirements for transparency in supply chains. This is a feature that international clients, including one of Japan’s biggest retailers, have expressed appreciation for.

Companies are supposed to respect human rights, not only within their own organisations but also throughout the value chains of the products they procure, manufacture, or sell. Since the UN adopted the Guiding Principles on Human and Business Rights to implement its “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework in 2011, laws aimed at achieving its objectives have been passed in one country after another, including in Germany, with the EU soon to follow.

Increasing numbers of companies are therefore paying more attention to sustainability, including in their international supply chains and of the raw materials they use. They are looking for cotton cultivated 100 percent sustainably and for transparent supply chains, which is exactly what CmiA offers through its Hard Identity Preserved system along with the SCOT/HIP tracking system.

Over the years, Cotton made in Africa has acquired extensive experience with tracking systems that guarantee both the integrity and security of data. CmiA drew on this background knowledge to develop the SCOT tracking system in 2020.

While originally designed to track CmiA Mass Balance products, SCOT has since been expanded to meet rising retailer demand for products containing 100 percent sustainable CmiA cotton. The resulting HIP version of SCOT is able to collect and save additional information on the origins of materials and on processing operations undertaken at specific stages of textile production (e.g. yarn, fabric, or textile), thereby offering a new level of transparency and data security.

SCOT’s user-friendly design has been enhanced through continual revisions and updates informed by user input from clients.

SCOT/HIP is organised around a principle that is as simple as it is effective: At every stage of production in the HIP system, corresponding documents must be uploaded to the HIP section in SCOT. This starts with the spinning mill, which must provide documents and photos to prove that only CmiA-verified cotton has been used for yarn production, and it ends with the retailer who placed an order for the production of textiles using CmiA cotton.

Companies that have become used to the Mass Balance system do not need to change their practices when switching to the HIP system because the workflows for both are managed in basically the same way. By uploading relevant documents and photos, partners make the entire route that CmiA cotton takes through the supply chain transparent, offering CmiA clients comprehensive control over the origin of, and path taken by, their goods as they flow through globalised textile trade networks.

With proper implementation and documentation, the HIP system guarantees that:

To fulfil these requirements, CmiA retains the right to monitor all documents submitted to the system and to test the plausibility and reliability of business data provided. To this end, CmiA is entitled to appoint independent auditors to examine the data and documents submitted to the system and to inspect storage or processing facilities to verify the physical availability of the ordered CmiA cotton and the products created from it.

These measures ensure that all CmiA trade partners who choose to use the HIP system can be assured that goods labelled “Cotton made in Africa Inside” contain only cotton that was cultivated in accordance with the social and environmental criteria of the CmiA standard. In this way, the SCOT/HIP tracking system will also help companies to meet new requirements imposed by international supply chain legislation in the future.

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