Retailers that use sustainable cotton are on the rise, however, many still don’t with a third of companies ‘unwilling to change,’ according to the 2020 Cotton Ranking report.
Cotton is the most widespread profitable non-food crop in the world, providing income to more than 250 million people across the world.
However, the production of cotton has many negative environmental impacts, from the use of pesticides, the conservation of water and the conversion of habitat to agricultural use.
In a report titled The Cotton Ranking 2020, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Pesticide Action Network and Solidaridad have ranked fashion companies for their use of sustainable cotton.
The research was conducted on behalf of these organisations by the independent consultancy group Aidenvironment, they collected data on 77 cotton-using companies and assessed their public policies and commitments, how much cotton they use and how much is from sustainable sources and how open they are with their supply.
According to the report, the 77 companies use an estimated 10,000 metric tonnes of cotton each year and only 5% of the total global production is actively bought as sustainable cotton.
Since 2017, progress has been made by companies like Jack&Jones, Vera Moda and Decathlon, which were ranked in 2017 as ‘starting the journey’ but are now ranked as ‘leading the way.’
Eleven big brands including Nike and H&M have made commitments to source 100% of their cotton from sustainable sources by the end of this year.
However, the number of companies who have not taken any action remains largely the same as in 2017.
Around one-third of global companies, such as Amazon, Armani and Forever 21 all scored zero in their sustainability ranking and they still showed an unwillingness to change.
Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF UK said: ‘Leading companies are showing international leadership on sourcing cotton that doesn’t damage the environment, but the gap between the best and the rest is simply not good enough.
‘More companies must choose to step up to their responsibilities and make concrete commitments to use more sustainable cotton because, in 2020, consumers know more and demand more from their favourite brands.’
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