The performance of 75 of the largest cotton-using companies was assessed, up from 37 in 2016, and including several of the largest in emerging markets in Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
The research has pointed out that sustainability efforts are driven by five companies who lead the way scoring 50-100 points, eight companies scored between 25-50 points and 18 more have started the journey scoring 5-25 points, while the remaining 44 have scored less than 5 points.
Commissioned by PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF in order to highlight opportunities for companies to accelerate transformation of the cotton market to sustainability through sourcing, the research was conducted independently by Aidenvironment, who scored company performance across three areas: policy, uptake, and traceability.
"There is no reason why all large companies can’t match C&A, H&M, M&S, Tchibo GmbH and Ikea on cotton sustainability," said Richard Holland of WWF International. “There is now sufficient information, experience and advice about sourcing more sustainable cotton available through credible programmes such as the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)."
Of the 25 companies assessed in both 2016 and 2017, 18 improved their performance with most increasing their sourcing of more sustainable cotton. The top five companies from 2016 (Ikea, C&A, H&M, Adidas and Nike) all increased uptake as a percentage of total volumes used by approximately 20 per cent in 2017, with C&A making the biggest advance and almost doubling its score. In addition, 13 companies have significantly strengthened their policies compared with 2016, with GAP Inc, Ikea and M&S making the biggest advances.
"Uptake of more sustainable cotton is our best chance of protecting workers' health and the environment from pesticide pollution”, said Keith Tyrell, executive director, Pesticides Action Network UK. "Despite overall policy progress, it’s disappointing that none of the companies have adopted policies to completely eliminate highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in the cultivation of the cotton they use."
"There are still too many companies doing little or nothing about sustainable cotton," said Isabelle Roger, global cotton programme manager, Solidaridad. "Public commitments by CEOs to sourcing are critical to sector change and making sustainable cotton the norm." (RR)
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