Trace it – to keep our “all-in” cotton promise
IKEA CHALLENGES THE CONVENTIONAL COTTON INDUSTRY
Since September 2015, IKEA promises that 100 percent of the cotton in our products comes from more sustainable sources. We insure that our promise is being kept, by regularly checking that the cotton can be traced back to the farmers that grow it. It is a never ending job that we do since we see daily proof of how cotton from more sustainable sources benefits the people that grow it. But, there is only so much IKEA can do to improve the cotton industry. We want cotton from more sustainable sources to become a commodity, and urge everybody to join us.
Making sustainable cotton the standard
More sustainable cotton means cotton grown with less water, chemical fertilizer and pesticides, while increasing profit margins for farmers. The definition includes recycled cotton, cotton grown to the Better Cotton Initiative Standard or towards Better Cotton or other more sustainable cotton such as the e3 Cotton Program in the USA.
“We want to transform the entire cotton industry. Customers shouldn’t have to figure out if the cotton they buy has been produced in a sustainable way or not, there shouldn’t be any other cotton than cotton from more sustainable sources,” says Calvin Woolley, supplier development leader for textiles at IKEA of Sweden.
Tracing the cotton in India
About a quarter of all the cotton used by IKEA comes from India, which makes it our biggest cotton sourcing country. In India, IKEA ensures that the cotton used in our products comes from more sustainable sources by demanding that our suppliers only buy cotton grown to the Better Cotton Initiative Standard or towards Better Cotton.
“We started using Better Cotton because IKEA required it. But seeing the benefits for the people working with it and for the environment, we want to move all our production to Better Cotton in the future,” says Venkatachalam Ashok Ram Kumar, Managing Director of Asian Fabricx.
Asian Fabricx is a supplier to IKEA that runs a weaving and stitching factory in Karur in India. Cotton from more sustainable sources is used in all the cotton products they make for IKEA. But they also have other customers that use conventional cotton.
Asian Fabricx keeps extensive records that IKEA regularly checks to be able to guarantee that the cotton used in our products comes from more sustainable sources. The date stamp on the products is the key. From the date stamp, it is possible to trace the cotton to the spinnery, the ginnery and all the way back to the farmers that grow it.
One of these farmers is Prahad Bhai Patel. He owns a farm in Dudapur in India and has been associated with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) for several years.
IKEA has helped set up BCI together with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). It is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of cotton farmers, make the cotton production better for the environment and increase demand for sustainable cotton.
Through BCI, Prahad Bhai Patel has received trainings in farming techniques that use less water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, while cutting costs.
“Our income has increased substantially. We have more resources for the family and can provide our children with a good education. If they get an education and good knowledge, they can farm even better than us in the future,” says Prahad Bhai Patel.
Urging people to join the mission
Each year, IKEA uses around 1% of the world’s cotton supply. Despite being a relatively small number, it’s enough to drive change.
“From the end of 2015, IKEA is really proud to announce that 100 percent of the cotton in our products is sourced from more sustainable sources. But the journey doesn’t end there. In order to transform the cotton industry and make it more sustainable, we need the support of other retailers,” says Calvin Woolley.
From September 2015, all cotton in IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources. This means that it’s grown with less water, chemical fertilizer and pesticides, while increasing profit margins for farmers.
Cotton from more sustainable sources includes recycled cotton, cotton grown to the Better Cotton Initiative Standard or towards Better Cotton or other more sustainable cotton such as the e3 Cotton Program in the USA.
Regular traceability assessments enables IKEA to guarantee that the cotton used comes from more sustainable sources.
IKEA has worked since 2005 with World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) to make cotton farming more sustainable. Along with World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), IKEA has helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
The Better Cotton Initiative Standard has been developed by the Better Cotton Initiative, (BCI). Together with BCI, IKEA runs several projects to improve the livelihoods of cotton farmers.