John Lewis scrutinises cotton source

2 December 2009

2 December 2009 | Gareth Mytton

The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is investigating the source of cotton used by a vendor of furnishing textiles.

The group’s 2009 Corporate Sustainability Report, published this week, said it was reacting to concerns about reported poor labour standards and human rights violations in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.

“In collaboration with an external consultancy, we have started to map the provenance of the cotton use in the furnishing textiles from one of our suppliers,” said the report.

Last year, Wal-Mart stopped using Uzbek cotton suppliers in a bid to force the country’s government to tackle the use of child labour in the industry after campaigners and trade groups had appealed to Uzbek president Islam Karimov to act.

All suppliers of own-brand products to the partnership, which operates the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets in the UK, have to meet its Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice. The code is based on international conventions on workers’ rights and covers issues such as child and forced labour, working hours and wages.

In the report, the group also unveiled plans to extend an agricultural stewardship programme to its overseas suppliers next year.

JLP revealed it would be working with growers in sub-Saharan Africa to help them develop sustainable production techniques and meet the Linking Environment and Farming certification standard.

The report added that JLP continues to use only renewable electricity. It is on track to ensure all John Lewis outdoor furniture is made from sustainable timber, verified as meeting Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.

It has also committed to using recycled or FSC sources for all own-brand paper products by 2012.

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