Major brands failing on cotton sustainability

Only eight major international companies out of 37 are properly sourcing sustainable cotton, according to a new report by Pesticide Action Netowrk (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF.

Research conducted by Rank a Brand, one of Europe’s largest brand-comparison sites on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, shows that the majority of international companies using the most cotton globally are failing to deliver on cotton sustainability.

Home furnishing giant IKEA was the only company to score in the green zone with 12 out of a maximum of 19.5 points, writes WWF in a statement. It was followed by C&A (9), H&M (9) and Adidas (7.75) in the yellow zone. Nike (6.75), M&S (5.5), VF Corporation (3.25), and Kering (3) were all in the orange zone. The remaining 29 companies fell in the red zone, doing virtually nothing on cotton sustainability.

“IKEA, C&A and H&M are showing how cotton sustainability is good for business but many top companies are failing to deliver”, said Richard Holland, director of market transformation at WWF.

“For the cotton sector as a whole to become sustainable, all other major companies will need to get on board,” added “Isabelle Roger, Global Cotton programme manager at Solidaridad.

While around 10-13 per cent of global cotton supply can be classed as more sustainable, less than a fifth of this amount is actually being used as more sustainable cotton in products with the rest being sold as conventional due to lack of demand from top brands and companies, explains WWF.

“Lack of uptake of more sustainable cotton is a massive missed opportunity”, said Keith Tyrell, director of PAN UK. “Conventional cotton production often suffers from serious social and environmental impacts such as excessive water and hazardous pesticide use. Growing the sustainable cotton market is our best chance of cleaning up cotton and protecting worker health.”

PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF are calling on all companies using large volumes of cotton to set, report and deliver on time-bound targets for cotton sustainability. They call for the companies to source 100 per cent more sustainable cotton by 2020 at the latest.

“Sourcing more sustainable cotton has never been easier so there is no excuse for companies not to offer more responsible products to customers,” said Richard Holland.


Image credit: Dave Chiu, flickr/Creative Commons

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