Adidas, Ikea, and H&M have been recognised for efforts promoting sustainability in the cotton sector.
The three retail giants have topped the 2020 Sustainable Cotton Ranking, compiled by Pesticide Action Network UK, Solidaridad, and WWF.
The ranking, which scores 77 global companies on their policy, traceability and uptake of sustainable cotton, found that overall, progress is being made by manufacturers and their supply chains.
It found 13 brands increased their scores by more than 20 points compared to 2017. These include Adidas, Levi’s and Gap.
Adidas, the leader for 2020, has risen from sixth place in 2017.
Uptake of sustainable cotton was the key differentiator between high performing companies and those lagging behind. It found while some of the companies assessed had sourcing targets and reported volumes and percentages of sourced sustainable cotton, most firms (48 out of 77) scored nothing in this area.
Better performing companies were found to have policies on more sustainable cotton and sourcing targets.
“Relatively few companies have policies on pesticides, water, biodiversity, human rights, and recycling,” the report concluded. “So there is still work to be done,” it said.
The ranking noted that only 11 brands have sourced between 50-100% of their cotton from sustainable sources. This group is followed by a clutch of 14 companies that have sourced between 1-50% of their cotton sustainably.
Traceability was the area where company performance was rated weakest overall.
While supply chain transparency was commended for brands such as H&M Group, Nike, Patagonia, the ranking's authors said: “Very little is published on countries of origin of cotton used in company products. Cotton supplier transparency represents an area of opportunity in terms of industry collective action.”
Despite progress overall, some 26 companies failed to score any points at all, including Amazon, Lulu Lemon, and Samsung.
2020 Sustainable Cotton Ranking - The Top 10
1. Adidas 79.2
2. Ikea 79
3. H&M 77.4
4. C&A 69.5
5. Otto 69
6. Marks & Spencer 66.1
7. Levi’s 64.5
8. Tchibo 61.8
9. Nike 60
10. Decathlon 57.6