Cotton sustainability: Only 8 out of 37 companies using most cotton made it out of the red zone in research by PAN, Solidaridad and WWF

Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2016-Jun-08 — /EPR Retail News/ — The majority of international companies using most cotton globally are failing to deliver on cotton sustainability according to new independent research published today by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF.

Just eight companies out of 37 made it out of the red zone in the ranking researchconducted by Rank a Brand, one of Europe’s largest brand-comparison sites on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Only home furnishing giant IKEA, who top the ranking, score in the green zone with 12 out of a maximum of 19.5 points. C&A (9), H&M (9) and Adidas (7.75) follow in the yellow zone, while Nike (6.75), M&S (5.5), VF Corporation (3.25), and Kering (3) are in the orange zone. Another 29 companies fall in the red zone and appear to do 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, WWF. “Sourcing more sustainable cotton has never been easier so there is no excuse for companies not to offer more responsible products to customers.”

“It’s clear that just a few leading companies are doing the heavy lifting on sourcing sustainable cotton”, said Isabelle Roger, Solidaridad. “For the cotton sector as a whole to become sustainable, all other major companies will need to get on board.”

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.

“Lack of uptake of more sustainable cotton is a massive missed opportunity”, said Keith Tyrell, 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.”


Rank a Brand scored company performance across three areas: policy, sourcing and use, and traceability. Most points were available for sourcing and use with companies assessed according to volumes used from Better Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, Organic, and Fairtrade – the four standards judged to be sustainable for this research.

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 – companies serious about sustainability should be sourcing 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 at the latest.


The full Cotton Ranking report and a cotton market briefing, ‘Mind the Gap: Towards a More Sustainable Cotton Market’ give an overview of the market for more sustainable cotton.

37 companies estimated globally to use the most cotton in their products were scored across sustainable cotton policy, sourcing and use, and traceability. As transparency and accountability are considered paramount by PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF, only publicly available information was used in scoring company performance. In general, there is still a significant lack of information on sustainable cotton policies, sourcing, and supply chain transparency.

The four standards deemed most credible in this research as assessed by the WWF Certification Assessment Tool are: Better Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, Organic, and Fairtrade.


Cotton is grown in around 80 countries worldwide and is a key raw material for the textile industry, accounting for around 32% of all fibres used. Sustainability issues include the widespread use of pesticides, with 6.2% of global pesticide sales associated with cotton production (which uses just 2.3% of the world’s arable land), and intensive water use, with 73% of global production currently dependent on irrigation.

While many smallholder cotton farmers are driven into debt by the cost of pesticides and fertilisers, sustainable cotton production has the potential to lift farmers out of poverty by providing a more stable income and improving working conditions.

A number of sustainable cotton standards have been developed in the last 30 years, starting with Organic cotton in the 1980s, followed by Fairtrade in 2004, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) in 2005 and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2009. All provide guidance and support for farmers and seek to reassure consumers and retailers that the products they buy are being produced using sustainable farming methods.

The supply of sustainable cotton has never been greater (estimated to be at 13 per cent of global supply in 2015) but uptake by companies, essential for mainstreaming sustainable cotton, remains too low at approximately 17 per cent of what is available. Reasons for low uptake given by companies include low consumer demand, complexity of their supply chains and additional costs. Low uptake risks demotivating farmers and hindering lasting change in the textile sector.


Isabelle Roger

Global Cotton Programme Manager


Cotton sustainability: Only 8 out of 37 companies using most cotton made it out of the red zone in research by PAN, Solidaridad and WWF

Cotton sustainability: Only 8 out of 37 companies using most cotton made it out of the red zone in research by PAN, Solidaridad and WWF

Cotton used in IKEA products now comes from Better Cotton Standard sources

Now IKEA only purchases cotton – which is used in IKEA products – from farmers who use less water, less chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and are also able to increase their profits

Conshohocken, PA, 2015-11-02 — /EPR Retail News/ — IKEA announces that since September 2015, all the cotton used for IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources; specifically farmers who use less water, less chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and are also able to increase their profits. This positions IKEA as the first major retailer to reach this milestone.

Cotton is an important raw material for IKEA, used in many products, from sofas to towels. However, when grown conventionally, cotton farming uses large amounts of chemicals and water, raising costs and making it harder for farmers to earn a living. Now IKEA is a leader in sustainable cotton sourcing as it purchases cotton – which is used in IKEA products – in a more sustainable way.

Cotton from more sustainable sources includes cotton grown to the Better Cotton Standard by farmers working towards Better Cotton, as well as sustainable cotton from the USA. Since September 2015, all the cotton used in IKEA products comes from these Better Cotton Standard sources.* Each year, IKEA uses around 0.7 percent of all the cotton grown around the world with its main sources from India, Pakistan, Turkey, China, Brazil and the USA. Of this total cotton procurement, approximately 5 percent or 7,400 metric tons comes from the US. This includes cotton sources from Texas, where IKEA partners with E3, and also North Carolina.

“This year is the beginning of a new era for cotton at IKEA. Reaching our goal of sourcing 100% of cotton from more sustainable sources is a great achievement, but it also marks the start of our next challenge – to maintain the 100% and to find even more ways to support cotton producers around the world to be more sustainable,” says Pramod Singh, Cotton Leader, IKEA.

This sustainable cotton milestone is part of a long journey to help transform the cotton industry. In 2010, IKEA together with the conservation organization WWF, and other leading public and private organizations, helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

”We are extremely proud of our partnership with IKEA. We applaud them for setting such an ambitious target and for acting as an example to other retailers and brands. IKEA’s commitment to BCI helps us fulfill our mission of establishing Better Cotton as a mainstream commodity,” says Paola Geremicca, BCI Director of Communications and Fundraising.

“Cotton from more sustainable sources across all IKEA products is a potential game-changer for the global cotton market because it demonstrates the clear business case for sustainability”, says Richard Holland, Director, WWF Market Transformation Initiative. “We need more companies to follow IKEA’s lead but this milestone shows what’s good for people and nature is also good for business.”

Together with its partners, IKEA wants to make more sustainable cotton affordable and accessible, and also to be better for the environment and the people who grow it.

*A very small volume of products produced use conventional cotton prior to this time will still be available in stores until sold out.

For further information, please contact:
Mona Astra Liss, US Corporate PR Director,,
610.834.0180, ext. 5852

About IKEA Group
The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them. There are currently 328 IKEA Group stores in 28 countries. Additionally, there are 40 IKEA stores run by franchises. There are 41 IKEA stores in the US. In FY 15, IKEA Group had 771 million visitors to the stores and 1.9 billion visitors to IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, please visit,, @IKEAUSANews, @IKEAUSA,,,,

About the Better Cotton Initiative
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) operates as a not-for-profit organization, existing to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. To achieve this mission, BCI works with a diverse range of stakeholders across the cotton supply chain to promote measurable and continuing improvements for the environment, farming communities and the economies of cotton producing areas. To find out more, visit

About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

WWF works in partnership with IKEA on cotton and forests as part of its key market transformation conservation strategy focused on driving better production across priority commodities such as timber and pulp, soy, palm oil, beef, white fish, tuna and cotton, all of which have a significant impact on some of the world’s most ecologically important regions.Find out more at

SOURCE: Inter IKEA Systems B.V.