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19 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds
Ikea has promised to only use sustainable cotton in all of its products by 2015, in response to the Business Call to Action (BCTA).
The BCTA, a global initiative led by a number of international development agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), challenges private sector companies to develop business models that fight poverty while achieving commercial success.
The home furnishings giant aims to use cotton produced in line with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) standards, while ensuring consumers do not pay more than they would for products made from more conventional cotton.
BCI is an organisation that works with stakeholders to promote measures for sustainable cotton farming, protect farming communities and transform cotton production worldwide. According to the BCI, 'better cotton' is produced by famers who minimise the harmful impact of crop protection practices, use water efficiently and care for the health of the soil.
Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer at Ikea Group, said in a statement: “By making sustainability affordable for everyone, we hope we can lead to the transformational change of markets and commodities, such as cotton.”
Cotton is the second most important raw material for the company after wood and last year Ikea used 160,000 tonnes of cotton in its products. The majority of this came from India and Pakistan, so the retailer is focusing its work in these regions to provide technical assistance to farmers to help them produce and sell better cotton.
Currently, 34 per cent (51,000 tonnes) of cotton used in Ikea products is made in line with BCI standards and by the end of 2015, the company says this will apply to all of the cotton it uses.
Sigrid Kaag, UN assistant secretary-general and assistant UNDP administrator, said: “The BCTA, housed at UNDP, can challenge and support corporations such as Ikea in new markets by contributing to more inclusive business models with a positive impact on people living in poverty.”