Sustainable Cotton

In May 2017, 13 of the world’s most renowned clothing and textile companies, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, signed up to the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué. On October 11th, 23 more clothing and textile companies signed up to the communiqué at the annual Textile Exchange conference. The total number of companies that have signed the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué now stands at 36. 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’s, Lindex, M&S, Nike, Sainsbury’s, F&F at Tesco,  Woolworths, Adidas, A-Z, BikBOk, Burberry, Burton Snowboards, Carlings, Coyuchi, Cubus, Days like This, Dressmann, Hanky Panky, House of Fraser, Indigenous Designs, KappAhl, Kathmandu, Mantis World, MetaWear, Otto Group, prAna, SkunkFunk,  Timberland, Urban, Volt and Wow.

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, which will be collected by Textile Exchange.

The ISU will continue to work alongside partners including M&S, The Soil Association, Textile Exchange and others to encourage more companies to sign on to the communique and in improve the sustainability of cotton production.

The full text of the communiqué can be found here.

If your company is interested in signing up to the communiqué, please contact: [email protected]