Sustainable Cotton

The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit is delighted to announce the signing of a sustainable cotton communiqué by 13 of the world’s most renowned clothing and textile companies at a high-level meeting held at The British Academy on May 24th 2017. Through this communiqué, these companies have committed to ensuring that 100% of the cotton they use comes from sustainable sources by 2025. The companies that have signed up to the communiqué thus far are: ASOS, EILEEN FISHER, Greenfibres, H&M, IKEA, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Lindex, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Woolworths Holdings.

Background

Over the past year the ISU has been working in collaboration with Marks and Spencer and The Soil Association to convene leading companies and various ‘standards’ organisations to discuss how to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts that are all too often associated with cotton production. There have been substantial gains made over the past few years in scaling the production of more sustainable forms of cotton, with production higher than ever before. However, companies are only actively sourcing less than a fifth of more sustainable material.

Companies that use cotton therefore have a significant role to play in correcting this disparity by building demand for more sustainable cotton. The companies that pledged their support today are at various stages on their journey to using sustainable cotton, with some just beginning and others already securing all of their cotton from sustainable sources. However, these companies recognise that sustainability across the cotton sector cannot be achieved by a few companies alone, and that collaboration across the sector is needed to bring about transformative change.

The communiqué defines sustainable sources as Organic, Fairtrade, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Made in Africa and recycled cotton certified to an independently verifiable standard such as the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) or the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS). In addition, Cotton Connect’s REEL programme and code provides a starting point for businesses aiming to for greater sustainability in their cotton supply chain.

Next Steps

It is hoped that this communiqué can act as a catalyst to spur a shift in the market towards the use of more sustainable cotton. As stated in the communiqué, companies will be required to independently publish their progress from 2018.

The full text of the communiqué can be found here.

If your company is interested in signing up to the communiqué, please contact: katie.flanagan@royal.gsx.gov.uk