Ikea claims a first among major retailers

Housewares and home furnishings chain Ikea has announced that all the cotton used for Ikea products comes from more sustainable sources, which, it claims, makes it ‘the first major retailer to reach this milestone’.

The group said: ‘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. The milestone for Ikea to only use cotton from more sustainable sources means that the farmers supplying cotton used in its products use less water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, while increasing their profits.’

Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer of the Ikea Group, added: “For over a decade we’ve been working towards an ambitious goal: to have 100% of the cotton we use in our products come from more sustainable sources. We’re delighted to announce that we have reached our 100% target and we’re not stopping here. We are committed to creating positive change throughout the entire cotton industry.”

Cotton from more sustainable sources includes cotton grown to the Better Cotton Standard, by farmers working towards Better Cotton, and sustainable cotton from the USA. Since September, all the cotton used in Ikea products is from these sources, although a very small volume of products produced using conventional cotton prior to this time will still be available in stores until they are sold out. Ikea mainly sources its cotton from India, Pakistan, Turkey, China, USA and Brazil.

In 2010 Ikea, together with the conservation organisation WWF and other public and private organisations helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

Paola Geremicca, BCI director of communications and fundraising, said: “We’re 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.”

Richard Holland, director of WWF Market Transformation Initiative, commented: “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. 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.”

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